When I found out I was going to interview Nora Singley, she of the internet sensation One Pan Pasta I was excited but skeptical. My maturation as a cook happened in the Italian kitchen so I cook in pretty tried and true traditional ways. The pasta cooking instructions for every single one of my cookbooks always begins the same way. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. So what was I to think about this quirky method of putting a small amount of water in a pan with raw pasta and the condiments to flavor the sauce? Yep, skeptical. Except for one little niggling thought. Nora learned this technique from a restauranteur in Puglia who learned it from his mother who made all her sauces this way. The Pugliese eat a fair amount of pasta. Was I to believe that there was this one misguided woman making horrible pasta for her family everyday? Not a chance.
As usual, time got away from me. The day of the interview with Nora arrived and I hadn’t yet tried the recipe. So I got out of bed and made it for breakfast. Oh. My. God. It was beyond delicious. I’m a crazy al dente fan and when I say al dente I don’t mean crunchy. I mean that elusive moment when your teeth can bite through the pasta and it still has a meaty texture to it. It’s completely cooked, but isn’t yet overly yielding. With this method you can literally pick your al dente moment. No sauce slips onto the plate. Every bit ends up in your mouth. I’ve already made it for non-believing Italian friends who get kind of crazy watching the magic in the pan toward the end of the cooking process.
You’ll notice that I used sauce instead of chopped tomatoes and herbs. I can enough sauce every summer to last me the whole year. For this experiment I grabbed one of my jars of puttanesca sauce. That’s why you see little black specks in the sauce. It’s the olives. But you could use any ready made sauce you love. Just make sure it’s really good because that flavor will literally be inside the pasta noodles.
The recipe is below and here is my interview with Nora Singley.