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1) A good profile of chef Rick Bayless, but the Gay Talese homage is a bit heavy-handed.

2) Even Michael Lewis got caught in the housing bubble.

3) Big businesses revolt against the Chamber of Commerce's intransigence on climate change.

4) The health-care industry will negotiate with the Obama administration. The planet's atmosphere will not.

We've talked about the ease and difficulty of cooking at home today, so here's a recipe I made last night that uses mostly pantry ingredients and is absurdly delicious.

You'll need a whole head of garlic, an onion, a box of dry pasta, a third of a cup of olive oil, and six or seven dried red chilis (or chili flakes). Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and mince the onion. Generously salt a pot of water and get it boiling. Add your pasta whenever the water is ready.

Meanwhile, warm your olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chilis (or chili flakes) and saute for 30 seconds, or till they smell delicious. Add the garlic, and when it starts to sizzle, turn the heat down to medium. Add a pinch of salt. When the garlic is golden-brown, but not burned, use a wooden spoon and transfer it to another plate (it's fine if some garlic is left in the pan). Reserve the oil. Add the minced onion and turn the heat up a bit. Let the onion soften and turn translucent. A minute or two before the pasta is ready, add the garlic back to the pan and mix with the onion. Toss everything, and enjoy. If you like your sauces a bit wetter, reserve some of the pasta water to toss in at the end.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 12, 2009; 6:16 PM ET
Categories:  Food  
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yeah, that's a really good recipe, i've done something similar. varying the type of pasta also adds variety so you can eat that for weeks if you really want (done it, been there). e.g., want something richer, get some egg pasta fettuchine. something lighter, just do some regular farfalle.

Posted by: razibk | October 12, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

That's a quick and tasty recipe, but pretty light on nutritional value. You have just proved that quick calories can be prepared at home. If you are diabetic, however, that recipe is going to spike your blood sugar only slightly more slowly than a can of Coke.

Posted by: J_Bean | October 12, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

J_Bean, adding olive oil or any other fat to carbohydrate is going to damp the response. Protein has a similar effect.

Now if this had been a 1980s era recipe of pasta, tomato sauce and absolutely no added fat, then that would be spike city for sure.

See also: The effects of fiber enrichment of pasta and fat content on gastric emptying, GLP-1, glucose, and insulin responses to a meal. (

The addition of polyunsaturated fat and sodium propionate significantly increased the IAUC for GLP-1 (P less than 0.001), delaying gastric emptying (P less than 0.002), and decreasing glucose (P less than 0.002). CONCLUSIONS: A dose of 1.7 g psyllium did not evoke measurable effects on gastric emptying, postprandial GLP-1, insulin or glucose metabolism. However the addition of 30 g of oil and 3 g of sodium propionate to the pasta did reduce gastric emptying, increase GLP-1 and reduce glucose and insulin concentrations.

Posted by: MFLC | October 12, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Here's another quick pasta: Boil water for pasta. Saute garlic and onion, add a can of organic diced tomatoes and cook until the liquid is reduced while you add the pasta to the water. Add a drained can of tuna to the tomato sauce and add some capers. Season with lemon pepper. Put it on the pasta when the pasta is done and add Italian parsley of you have it. Remember no cheese with seafood pastas. In my youth I made one like Ezra's and added a can of clams.

Posted by: Mimikatz | October 12, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Klein's parents teach him not to play with his food? There's no need to fiddle with the garlic like that. Just sauté the peppers, garlic, and onion together. Or add the garlic a little after the other two if you're afraid of burning it.

Here's my bastardized version of fettucini alfredo: Get your fettucini going. Melt a stick o' butter, sauté six or ten cloves of minced garlic in it, when done add half a big tub of sour cream, heat on low. Throw in the cooked pasta, toss, add a cup of fresh grated Parmesan or Romano, and toss some more. Serve with beef, pork, or chicken, and a dark green vegetable.

Mimikatz -- Try a can of sardines, sometime, instead of the tuna. Quite different, but very good.

Posted by: msoja | October 12, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Agreed MFLC, a big dose of olive oil (30gm is more than 2 tablespoons since it is less dense than water) will delay and slightly blunt that glucose spike, but we're still looking at a meal that is calorically dense and nutritionally light and a really bad choice for at least 1 out of 3 or 4 Americans. Switching to whole grain pasta is hardly better. The tuna pasta is a still better bet, especially if you don't eat it with a pound of pasta. I still think the McD Asian salad is a better choice, especially if you bring it home and make a proper vinaigrette for it instead of the sweet glop they supply (oh wait, there's that foodie snobbery popping up).

Posted by: J_Bean | October 12, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Olive oil, garlic, ANCHOVIES, tomatoes, capers, olives, of course.

Posted by: J_Bean | October 12, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

ANCHOVIES? I say they're sharks, and I say the hell with them.

But yeah, a little protein and veggies to go with the fat and pasta would be ideal. Hey Ezra, what else was on your menu for that meal?

Posted by: MFLC | October 12, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Hi Ezra,

I really look forward to reading your blog a few times a week.

You recipe sounds a bit like a dish that's made in Italy with "spaghetti olio e alio". We make it at home ... usually no onions and you keep in and eat as much of the garlic as you can!

Google to find recipe ...

Keep up the good work on the blog.

Posted by: MisterSunshine | October 12, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Aglio olio -- a staple. I think pasta has some protein. You can also have a salad and a cheese course. Or yogurt for desert. Or an hors d'oeurve of an anchovy on a slice of Italian bread and unsalted butter.

Add funghi (mushrooms) and lots of black pepper to alio e olio and you have spaghetti with mushrooms.

Posted by: harold3 | October 12, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Add a can of drained white beans (of any sort) to that dish and you'll have a winner. And also Pasta e Fagioli.

Posted by: KathyF | October 13, 2009 2:41 AM | Report abuse

"Olive oil, garlic, ANCHOVIES, tomatoes, capers, olives, of course."

Posted by: tl_houston | October 13, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

The recipe is based on spaghetti olio e alio, but in Marcella Hazan's book, she calls for two teaspoons of garlic and no onion. I just massively increased those quantities.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | October 13, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

You ate a bowl of onions.

Pretty much anything would improve it. Throw in some halved grape tomatoes and parmesan after all the cooking is over. Put broccoli or halved brussels sprouts in a steamer basket on top of the pasta pot while it cooks and toss it in. Add a can of drained cannellini beans. Any or all of these vastly improves both the taste and the nutritional quality.

Posted by: pj_camp | October 14, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

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