One of the things we love about the Connecticut, New York, New Jersey area is all the insanely good Italian food. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a family-run Italian restaurant. Along the way, I think we’ve picked up some new cooking habits by paying attention when we’re out and, especially, getting tips from new friends we’ve made in the area.
Daria and I, we’re suckers for piquant flavors. I’ve been that way since my mom would crack open a tin of sardines, open a box of Triscuits, and call that lunch (I still do that). Daria is a newcomer to the salty, briny scene. Piccata is all that for us.
Since Daria is vegetarian, we (I) don’t cook much meat in the house. I make chicken piccata now and again. But, I thought I’d go ahead and make pasta with a piccata sauce and just a shade of alfredo.
We’re not fancy cooks by a long-shot, and prefer simple, easy things that we can come back to – this has simplicity written all over it. So, here’s a little share of something easy, and some things that work for us in the kitchen.
- capers with brine
- coarsely-chopped Castelvetrano olives (the best, my secret piccata ingredient)
- parmigiano-reggiano (accept no substitutes)
- white wine
- olive oil
- salt, lots of it
- NO CREAM – I learned this up here: alfredo doesn’t have cream in it. Cream is a cheat and not necessary. Just pasta water, parmesan, and a vigorous stir is all you need and it tastes so much better.
These ingredients pretty much combine themselves. Cook the pasta first with heavily salted water, save a couple cups of pasta water and set both aside.
Sauté the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Throw in the capers with brine and olives, fry that up. White wine, some pasta water, butter, and lemon juice. Boil, stir. Some shredded parm, but not too much – it goes a long way (unless you want full alfredo, then go nuts). The sauce should emulsify the cheese pretty quickly over med-high to high heat.
Add the pasta, keep stirring. Add some more shredded parm a little at a time while stirring to emulsify. Add more pasta water as needed. Stop when it looks like something you want to eat. Plate it and add more shredded parm and top with chopped parsley.
More or less, grown-up butter noodles with lots of green stuff. Also super easy to make with left-over cooked pasta out of the fridge (we cook the whole package and store the rest for situations like this). Boiling water (which seems to take longer in the northeast, I can’t explain it) and chopping aside, this takes about 15 minutes to make.
Our kind of easy.