When it comes to quick and simple weeknight meals, Pasta is King! Not only is pasta comforting and delicious, but it can be put on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Giada's Calabrian Chile Pasta is probably the easiest pasta dish around. From start to finish it can be on your table in about 20 minutes. The secret: you don't have to wait for a big pot of water to boil. For this dish, you cook the pasta in a skillet with about 1" of water, which takes only minutes to boil.
I loved this method of cooking pasta because not all of the water cooks out and the residual water, filled with the starch from the pasta, remains and helps to create a very silky smooth pasta sauce. All you have to do is add the Calabrian Chile Paste, Pecorino, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and chives. When you toss all that together in the pan you get the most luxurious pasta sauce, spicy and so silky and smooth.
I really liked this dish, and other reviewers on Food Network did as well. I enjoyed this method for cooking the pasta and will most definitely use it again. I am a little conflicted about the flavor of the dish. It was good, but I felt like something was missing. It definitely needs some garlic. I also think it needs more than a splash of lemon juice. I found I needed to add quite a bit to brighten up the dish. Overall, it was good, but it has the potential to be great. I'd like to play with the recipe a bit more, perhaps even trying different brands of Calabrian Chile Paste.
Calabrian Chile Pasta
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
1 pound penne pasta
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup grated Pecorino
1-pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons Calabrian hot pepper paste
1/3 cup chopped chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice, from 1/2 lemon or more, depending on taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Optional: add garlic, to taste, if you wish
Note: I omitted the cherry tomatoes simply because the grocery store didn't have them.
In a 10-inch high-sided saute pan, bring 1 inch of water (about 4 cups) to a boil over high heat. Add the penne and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente, about 9 minutes (mine was about 7 minutes); there should be a little water left in the pan.
Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle the pecorino over the pasta; toss to coat. Add the tomatoes, chile paste, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil, and toss.
Note: If you'd like to add garlic I think it would be best to saute a few minced cloves in the skillet before cooking the pasta.