Khok: Pasta dossier 1

Ober Khok
·2 min read

Sadness has wrapped around the nation in 2020.

It doesn’t seem enough that Covid-19 has bullied the Philippines since March, two typhoons—Rolly and Ulysses—have deluged the country with misery, loss and need.

With Christmas just a few weeks away, and with all the existing problems and pain, is there room to celebrate the birth of the Savior?

My Aunt Tita Blitte said, “We can’t lock down gratitude. We celebrate Christmas to thank Christ for His sacrifice for us. What do you think, Tavie?” she asked Uncle Gustave.

My Uncle replied: “We can celebrate with care. This year, it has to be small, not noisy, and strictly an immediate family members affair.”

Since pasta is a popular Christmas dish, I’m starting a series on the types of pasta, their cooking times, and best uses. Let’s go!

ANGEL HAIR. The strands are fine and cook fast. Also called capellini d’angelo, the pasta cooks in three to five minutes. It works well with sauces made with cream or olive oil or butter, and seafood.

BASIC ANGEL. Boil pasta till al dente, then drain and set aside. Reserve pasta water. Pan-fry shelled shrimps, and lightly season with salt and pepper. If you want more flavor, cook with a bit of tomato sauce, pepper flakes and garlic. Set aside.

Caramelize four to five pieces minced garlic in butter. Add the pasta and enough pasta water to create sauce. Add the juice of lemon to taste, and the zest. Toss with the shrimps. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

ELBOW MACARONI. This familiar C-shaped pasta cooks eight to 10 minutes. It works best for baked dishes, soups, salads, and shines with sauces that have cheese and butter.

BASIC ELBOW. Our bet! Who can fail making basic mac and cheese? No one? To start, melt butter in a pan, add flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly add milk to create a smooth base.

Add grated cheese (I often use cheddar), stir until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta, tossing to coat. Serve with more cheese.

FARFALLE are also called bow ties and, in French, butterflies. They cook in 10 to 12 minutes. The pasta is best for salads, and tossing with cream sauces. It shines with plain sauces such as olive oil or butter, or a simple sauce made with cheese.

BASIC BUTTERFLY. Have on hand spinach (I use young alugbati). Saute grated garlic in olive oil. When fragrant, add spinach and cook just till wilted. Add half-and-half (half cup cream and half cup milk), and then grated parmesan cheese. Cook until the cheese melts. Add farfalle. Serve immediately.

Enjoy improving on the basic recipes. (Pasta dossier 2 next week.)