Inspired by a recent David Tanis/New York Times column about the beauty of having a quick, satisfying pasta in your repertoire, I thought I’d share my recipe—if you can even call it that—for the pasta I make for my son at least once a week. Like the Tanis recipe, this dish comes together quickly, with ingredients easy to keep on hand, and delivers fast, filling comfort on a cold, busy day.
Or night! I was so taken by the idea of having a go-to dish to make after a sparkly evening out, when it’s very possible that you were offered a lowball glass of Cheetos, but not actual real food to absorb the perfect cocktails you sipped for too many hours. (I love you Marvel Bar, but I am ready to eat my hat by the time I get home from a lovely evening in your presence.)
If you’re gluten-free, you can substitute gluten-free pasta. (Or, just make yourself a fried egg, with loads of hot sauce, which is what I often do. But that’s a different post…)
Quick Pasta with Cream & Garlic
1/2 lb. dried spaghetti
1 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
freshly ground black pepper
Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package instructions.
While the pasta cooks, heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add butter and when it’s hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and gently saute until garlic is softening but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream and a generous sprinkle of salt. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring a few times, then remove from heat and set aside.
When pasta is done, just before draining it, reserve 2 Tbsp. of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and add the garlic cream, Parmesan cheese, pasta cooking water, a sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss until sauce is creamy and pasta is coated. Serve immediately with more cheese, if desired.