Simanaitis Says

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MEZZANOTE PAPPARDELLE: BUON APPETITO!

THIS MIDNIGHT GOBBLE is one of the quickest meals to fix, though it calls for an oddly stocked larder: olive oil (easy), garlic (of course), Parmesan cheese (no problem), red pepper flakes (getting a bit more taste-bud specific), capers (ditto), anchovies (a deal breaker for some, easy for others), and pappardelle (large, broad pasta noodles, their name deriving from the Italian verb pappare, “to gobble up”).

My recipe is a variation of Midnight Spaghetti, with a swap of the more traditional pasta based on culinary logic. Pappardelle noodles are broad, flat, and paper-thin, a geometry that optimizes surface area for conveying sauce and yet minimizes pasta bulk.

Recipe Notes. Al Dente Pasta Company is a source for pappardelle. I buy mine at nearby Irvine Ranch Market; Al Dente, based in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, has North American distribution, much of which is keyed to its website.

The ingredients for Mezzanote Pappardelle.

Peeling fresh garlic is aided by first smashing the cloves with a Chinese cleaver. But the fact is it’s even easier to buy them peeled. I still mash them with my cleaver to enhance the flavor before roughly chopping.

Some recipes chop the capers too; I leave them whole and toss them around a bit with the garlic and oil over medium heat.

The Cooking. The time-consuming part of this recipe is heating the ready-to-heat garlic bread; it takes 10 to 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. And don’t forget the time getting the pappardelle water to the boil.

The rest occurs really quickly. Pappardelle cook to al dente in about three minutes. And preparation of the sauce doesn’t take much longer.

Non-stick skillet with 3 Tbs. of olive oil. Five cloves of garlic, mashed and roughly chopped, sauted for around a minute and a half; no need to brown them. Toss 2 Tbs. of capers in at around the 1-minute mark.

A couple of recipes I’ve read for Midnight Pasta use salt-packed anchovies in lieu of the flat fillets in olive oil. Some even count the number of anchovies. I use a 2-oz. tin of them, oil and all. This isn’t supposed to be a subtle sauce now, is it?

Out of deference to Wife Dottie’s refined taste buds, I add the red pepper flakes to my dish later. (I’ve been told I have pliers for taste buds.)

It doesn’t take long for the anchovies to dissolve in the medium-heat garlic/caper oil. It’s a close race, though, with the pappardelle quickly reaching al dente.

The anchovies have all but dissolved after a minute. In the meantime, the pappardelle is a’boil in water nearby.

The first couple times I made Mezzanote Pappardelle, I prepared one, pasta or sauce, and then the other. Now I chance them simultaneously.

I’ve thought about adding shrimp or precooked meatballs, but believe this would destroy the elemental simplicity of Mezzanote Pappardelle.

Buon appetito! ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

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