Recipe: Pasta Aglio e Olio

I consider this the simplest and most basic of all pasta sauces, one that every body should know how to prepare. A dried chili adds a little bite and I must confess although I have been informed sternly that this is highly unorthodox, I like to add chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano cheese if it's on hand. Since the ingredients are so few it is really important that they all be of excellent quality.

Serves 2

    • 200 grams spaghetti (I recommend artisan pasta such as Rustichella d'Abruzzo)
    • 2 to 3 cloves garlic peeled and lightly smashed with the flat of a knife
    • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 whole dried chili, such as arbol
    • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, gently brown the garlic in two tablespoons of oil. When the garlic is golden and aromatic on both sides add the chili and the parsley and let them both fry and flavor the oil. If you want the pasta on the spicy side, crumble the chili into the oil. For a milder sauce leave the chili whole. Be careful not to scorch or overheat the olive oil. Add the final two tablespoons olive oil and remove from the heat and reserve. When the water comes to a boil cook the pasta. When pasta is done, drain and toss immediately with the oil-garlic mix. If so desired sprinkle a little grated Parmigiano cheese on. Serve and eat immediately.

To read Sara's story about the early stages of opening a restaurant that will specialize in dried pasta, click here.

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Sara Jenkins is based in New York City, where she has developed a reputation as a fine rustic Italian chef. She runs Porchetta, an Italian sandwich shop, and Porsena, a casual restaurant focusing on classic Italian pastas. More

Sara Jenkins is based in New York City, where she has developed a reputation as a fine rustic Italian chef. As Mario Batali put it, "She is one of the few chefs in America who understands Italy and how Italians eat." Sara is also the author, with Mindy Fox, of Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond, released by Houghton Mifflin in September 2008.

The daughter of a foreign correspondent and a food writer, Sara grew up all over the Mediterranean, eating her way through several cultures and learning to cook what appealed to her. She began her professional career in the kitchen with Todd English at Figs in Boston, then went on to work as a chef in Florence and the Tuscan countryside, as well as on the Caribbean island of Nevis, before returning to the U.S.

In New York City, Jenkins became chef at I Coppi, earning that restaurant two stars from The New York Times. After similar turns at Il Buco, Patio Dining, and 50 Carmine, she began work on her own cookbook.

In September 2008 she and her cousin Matthew opened Porchetta, a storefront in the East Village focusing on porchetta, a highly seasoned roast pork common in Italy as street food or festival food sold out of a truck as a sandwich. Porchetta has been wildly successful in New York City, both with gourmands and ordinary folk alike. Porchetta was awarded the top spot in Time Out New York's "100 best things we ate in 2008" and also received a four-star review from New York magazine.

In 2010, Sara Jenkins will open Porsena, a simple and casual restaurant down the street from Porchetta focusing on classic Italian pastas.

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