If you haven’t seen the movie Chef, drop what you’re doing and catch it on Netflix STAT. It is definitely in my top 10 all time favorites films, Jon Favreau’s passion project which he wrote, directed, and starred in. Chef is a redemption tale of a man trying to reclaim his voice in the kitchen, and finds his way back to his family in the process.
It’s a road movie filled with plenty of funny and charming moments, but (as I’m sure you can guess) the food is just to die for. Jon Favreau manages to capture the heart behind food, whether it’s whipping up gourmet grilled cheese for a child you love, the creative process that happens in the kitchen, the sensuality of feeding your partner on a sexy date night, or going back to an old recipe from the happiest time in your life. One of the food-porniest moments of the film happens when Jon Favreau makes a skillet full of Aglio e Olio (pasta with olive oil and garlic) for Scarlett Johansson, and holy hell so they make it look delicious. (Trust me, this movie clip is everything).
Celeb chef (and you know, The Godfather of modern day food trucks) Roy Choi wrote all the recipes for this movie, and let’s just say the one for his Aglio e Olio is…indulgent. Like, an entire cup of olive oil kind of generous. Considering it’s a Tuesday night, that kind of richness just isn’t going to fly. My trick is to stretch the olive oil by incorporating the starchy water that the pasta boiled in–it thickens up into a light sauce that evenly coats every noodle. Have it ready on your kitchen table in 20 minutes flat.
- About 1/2 a package of pasta (any kind will do but there’s something extra satisfying about slurping angel hair or linguini. Today, I used orrichiette!)
- 2 tablespoons of good olive oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as you can
- 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon (be sure to zest it first, duh!!
- Kosher salt
- 2 fists full of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 4 cups of greens, rough chopped (optional, but a great way to sneak some good nutrition and fiber into this indulgent dish. I used pea tendrils because that’s what I picked up at the farmer’s market, but spinach, arugula, or Swiss chard is good)
- 1/2 cup of Parmesan or pecorino
- A handful of breadcrumbs (optional, but adds a nice textural element. Don’t use the gross bread crumbs that come from the aisle in a grocery store either–toast up a couple slices of French bread or some rolls, or bust out some crostinis and crunch them up with your fingers)
- Cook your pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the package, by subtract a minute from the shortest suggested cooking time. You want this pasta al dente…mushy noodles are gross. Plus, it’s going to cook again in a skillet later, and you don’t want them to overcook.
- While waiting on your pasta to cook, slice up your garlic, chop your parsley and greens, and zest your lemon.
- Before draining your pasta, pour 1/2-3/4s of a cup of the starchy pasta water into a heat-proof measuring cup or a bowl. Dump the pasta into a colander.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat, and add the garlic slices and red pepper flakes. Let cook until aromatic but not scorched, about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it!! As soon as you see the edges of the garlic start to brown, add the pasta water. Let the sauce boil and thicken for about 2 minutes.
- Add the pasta, greens, parsley, and a dash of salt in the skillet, and toss until the greens have softened. Add the lemon juice and cheese, and toss again, tasting to see if it needs more salt or red pepper.
- Serve garnished with bread crumbs. Delish!!
Remix The Dish: this pasta is pretty much a blank canvas, so toss it with anything you have in your fridge. Leftover chicken, steak, or shrimp, roasted veggies, or leftover diced crudité would all taste great.