Monday, October 18, 2004


Don’t ask me when I made this. Thursday night, maybe? Last week was a slow BookCook week—one night of unexpected pizza, one night of a rerun recipe (steak tacos, of which I can now say that an extra day of marination, due to having the aforementioned unexpected pizza on the day tacos were originally planned, was not at all a bad thing). Other things not to ask me: where I got this recipe, or what the word “asciutta” means. Although if I had to take a guess, it means “delicious but insanely decadent,” because the original version of this recipe calls for ¾ cup olive oil, ½ cup butter, and 1 cup cheese. In addition, of course, to the carbolicious pasta and potatoes. I am not one to shy away from such things, but even to me that seems excessive. By all means, feel free to try the original version, but I managed to reduce the quantities slightly and still produce a very good meal. It’s not just about the cheese, butter, and oil, but also the green beans (I do love green beans), the sweetness of the onions, and the plentiful garlic. It reminds me of pasta mixed with garlic mashed potatoes, but fresher, less overwhelming than that. Highly recommended, though maybe in small, infrequent doses.

6 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
12 cloves garlic, quartered
1 onion, chopped
1 pound fettuccine or lingune
¼ cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded fresh basil

1. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking the potatoes. When it boils, dump the potatoes in and cook until they're tender, being careful not to overook. While the potatoes are cooking, steam the green beans until they're tender but still crisp (the recipe says 10-12 minutes, but I don’t think I cooked them that long). Once the beans are steaming away, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking the pasta.

2. So, while the potatoes are boiling, the beans are steaming, and the pasta water is heating (this is a multitasking recipe), heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the onions and garlic and sauté until they're very tender and golden.

3. When the potatoes finish cooking, drained them. When the beans finish cooking, remove them from the heat. When the pasta water boils, add the pasta.

4. When the onions and garlic are cooked, add the butter to the pan and heat until it's melted. Then add the potatoes, green beans, and about ½ teaspoon salt, toss well, and turn off the heat.

5. When the pasta is al dente, remove about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water. Then drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the sauce. Toss the pasta and sauce with the cheese, basil, and a lot of pepper. If the pasta clumps or seems dry, add some pasta water (or you can add a little more olive oil instead, if you want).

Serves: 6
Time: 45 minutes

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