Mexican-Italian Pasta With Garlic and Dried Chiles
spaghetti or other thin pasta
garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ¼ oz
dried mild, fruity chiles, such as guajillos or New Mexican chiles
finely chopped herbs (a mix of any of these: rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano)
Freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cotija, Pecorino Romano, or ricotta salata (optional)
coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)
The precise type of dried chiles in this handy dish doesn’t matter, provided you’ve selected a chile that is mild. You could even use a combination of mild chiles if you happen to have more than one on hand. Same goes for the herbs. You want sturdy herbs like the ones listed. But you could use only one, rather than having to source all four.
Adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add enough salt so it’s almost as salty as the sea when it comes to a boil.
- Meanwhile, wipe the chiles with a damp cloth, then remove their seeds and finely chop the flesh. Careful! The pieces will want to fly everywhere. (If you haven’t already done so, you could chop the herbs, too, while the pasta water comes to a boil.)
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until a little less than al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a very large skillet big enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Don’t let it burn! Add the chiles and cook for another 20 seconds or so. Again, when they’re fragrant, move on to the next step. Add the herbs and cook yet again for 20 seconds or so. If the pasta isn’t ready yet, turn the heat to very low.
- You’ll want to reserve some of the starchy cooking water, so strain the noodles into a colander set over a mug or measuring cup.
- Add the pasta to the skillet, increase the heat back to medium, and add about ½ cup pasta cooking water. Cook, tossing, for another couple minutes, adding more cooking water if needed, until the pasta is al dente and slicked with sauce. Season to taste with pepper. You probably won’t need more salt, especially if you’re adding cheese. Toss with the cheese and parsley, if using either or both. Serve either family style on one large plate or divide among individual plates.
Scott Hocker is a writer, editor, recipe developer, cookbook author, and content and editorial consultant. He has worked in magazines, kitchens, newsletters, restaurants and a bunch of other environments he can’t remember right now. He has also been the editor in chief of both liquor.com and Tasting Table.