Garlic isn't a subtle ingredient, so why be subtle when using it?
This speedy pasta dish calls for tons of fresh garlic — 10 cloves, or about one head. But thanks to a brief saute in butter, the garlic is assertive and fresh without being overpowering.
Capers and red pepper flakes also help cut through and balance the garlic. The result is a warm, savory flavor that works well with crunchy breadcrumbs and al dente pasta.
To further lighten and balance the dish, the pasta is topped with diced tomatoes and chopped parsley.
If you wanted to make the dish heartier, you could add diced cooked chicken or a can of rinsed and drained white beans. But resist adding anything too flavorful; you don't want to compete with the garlic.
Be sure to wait until the pasta is done cooking before proceeding with the next step of the recipe. The garlic is sauteed just briefly; if started while the pasta is still cooking the garlic may burn.
Also, resist using jarred chopped garlic. In a recipe where garlic is the star, only fresh will do. To speed the peeling, simply place all 10 cloves under a cutting board and press down firmly, gently crushing them.
BUTTERY GARLIC PASTA WITH TOMATOES
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 pound linguine or fettuccine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes. The pasta should be cooked, but still slightly firm at the center. Drain, then return to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat evenly, then set aside.
Once the pasta has cooked, in a large saute pan over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the garlic, capers and red pepper flakes, then saute for 1 minute.
Add the breadcrumbs and saute for another minute. Add the pasta and use tongs to toss well to coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and top with the diced tomatoes. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 709 calories; 185 calories from fat; 21 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 28 mg cholesterol; 109 g carbohydrate; 23 g protein; 6 g fiber; 458 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: J.M. Hirsch can be e-mailed at jhirsch(at)ap.org.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.