Making Pasta with Garlic & Oil Super – From Simple to Special
Once you know how to make the Basic Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil, you can change the flavor of the dish dramatically by simply adding any combination of ingredients you would like.
It might sound like a stretch to say that this one basic recipe is the key to making a wide variety of dishes, but it really is. Once you realize that Basic Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil isn’t so much a recipe as it is a series of cooking techniques, you’ll be able to open the door to culinary creativity.
The techniques I’m talking about are, at their heart:
- Cooking pasta
- Heating oil in a pan
- Combining pasta and sauce
When broken down in that way, it becomes clear by choosing your pasta and choosing how you flavor your oil, you can personalize this dish in any number of ways.
Think of it this way. The pasta, garlic and oil is a framework upon which you can build all sorts of flavors. Getting a headache yet? Bear with me.
Check Your Spice Cabinet For Ideas
Look in your spice cabinet right now. See all those spices you have there? Heat any of them up along with the oil to give a different flavor to the finished pasta.
Adding red pepper flake will bring a nice heat to your dish. Aside from red pepper flakes, consider adding some lemon pepper, Cajun Seasoning, Old Bay–almost any pre-packaged spice blend, or your favorite blend of spices, that you like.
Add Some Aromatics
And there is no need to stop there. Along with (or instead of) the garlic, you can also mince up other aromatics to add to the oil: onions, shallots, leeks, celery, carrots, ginger–any of these would work nicely. And how good would some oil-packed sundried tomatoes be? Really good.
Bring In Some Herbs
Herb-wise, the sky is the limit. Fresh herbs are always more vibrant than dried, although dried tend to have a more intense flavor. Also, dried herbs often come in blends, such as Italian seasoning or Herbes de Provence.
If you’d like to use a blend of herbs and you don’t have your own herb garden, it is often more convenient and cost effective to buy an herb blend.
Otherwise, I generally prefer to use fresh herbs. If you do use dried herbs, before you add them to the dish, hold some in your palm and crush them with your thumb. This helps to release more of the essential oils and ups the flavor.
How About Some Nuts
To add some crunch to your dish, you might add some dried nuts. Pinenuts, crushed peanuts, walnuts, almonds–almost any nut you can think of will bring subtle differences in flavor. They will also add some protein and up the nutritional profile of your pasta.
Okay, even my head is starting to hurt a little bit. Take a look at the following chart. To create your own take on Basic Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil, just choose one or two complementary ingredients from each column, and you’re good to go.
|sun-dried tomatoes||chili powder||almonds|
|chow mein noodles|
|dried herb blends||crisp bacon|
|basil||dice ham (cooked)|
|cilantro||chicken, pork, beef|
|flat leaf parsley|
Of course, this chart is just a starting point. You truly are limited only by your imagination. Let me know what you come up with.