The Food Groupie Club

Hi my name is Sarah and I'm addicted to food. I have been a chef professionally for about 12 years now and am currently teaching cooking classes at a culinary school. I seriously love to cook and eat good food. The problem with cooking and eating like the professionals though is that it can be kind of intimidating for a home food enthusiast. My goal is to bring good food into every-day homes. Anyone can make healthy, good quality, good tasting, and good looking food with the right know-how. So here you made easy by a professional!

I will be featuring some of my favorite chef's recipes in my posts and will note in the post what book was used. Their books that I use will be listed in my must have cookbooks tab.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Angel Hair Pasta

Here's a super easy pasta dish that I actually used to make when I worked a certain restaurant in town {I won't say which because then everyone will want the recipe for a certain popular dish there aka sweet potato fries with jalapeno arugula aioli} I'll probably post that at some point, I'm just boycotting it right now because I have to make/explain that one for so many people.  Anyways, this is a vegetarian dish, but you can easily just add some grilled chicken on top if you need some carnage.  

Angel hair {cappellini} pasta is one of the easiest/hardest pastas to cook.  Its very thin so even though I used dried it still cooks in just a couple minutes. Because it cooks so fast, this is where it gets hard. Its VERY easy to overcook. It goes from perfect al dente to mush in seconds. I prefer to actually cook this less then you think just to make sure its not over done. Basically keep your eye on it and don't walk away from the stove while its cooking and taste it frequently to check the doneness.  I don't really measure when I'm just winging it {not following a recipe} so I can only give guesstimates on amounts here. Basically you have to have a little bit of your own judgement here and add as much as you want of the ingredients.

Also, this recipe calls for Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the sauce.  Pasta cuts are designed for certain sauces. Fettuccine was made to go with Alfredo.  Spaghetti appropriately pairs with spaghetti sauce{hmmm}, and mac or shell noddles begged at creation to be baked in cheese sauce. Because angel hair pasta is so thin, it is commonly just warmed with olive oil because everything else is too heavy for it and would make it just stick and clump.  Speaking of olive oil...... there are different quality levels.  Extra virgin is the first press of the olives and has the cleanest, purest flavor.  It also should not be cooked very much. You'll notice when you read the recipe it says to keep the heat moderately low.  Olive oil burns faster and at a lower temperature than butter. When you go through the grades of extra virgin to virgin to olive oil to pomace oil, that just means the olives have gone through additional pressing and have impurities from the olives in the oil.  All the varieties below virgin will tend to have bitter or sour flavors and are not good for saucing pasta. However, the lower grade olive oils can be cooked with because they don't burn as fast and are cheaper.  Heat breaks down the flavors, you are paying bigger bucks for that flavor in extra virgin, so completely ignoring the whole burning thing, you'll kill the flavor on the good stuff.  Extra virgin is like wine. Every brand will have a slightly different flavor with varying undertones.  Use a good quality one, but you don't have to get one of those crazy bajillion dollar priced ones you can find at the boutique stores.  I picked up some oil at Trader Joe's and it was only $7 for a liter.  It was just fine.  Just make sure what ever bottle you pick up is imported from Italy and is 100% pure extra virgin olive oil.  Just like wine... you get what you pay for sometimes. 

1/2 pound angel hair pasta
1 pound container grape or cherry tomatoes {I used heirlooms.....these are the best!}
4-5 cloves minced garlic
handful of basil cut chiffonade {see explanation below}
3/4-1 C. Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted Pine Nuts 
{optional if you can find them for less then $20 per pound...they are ridiculous right now!}
Goat Cheese as needed {about 4 oz}

This recipe made enough for 2 entree portions and 2 lunch portions.

FYI.......Prep everything before you start cooking! Everything needs to be ready to go because seriously the pasta will be done in 2-3 minutes and the sauce only takes that long also.

Step 1:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta and if using pine nuts toast them in a 350 degree oven until slightly golden brown.

Step 2:
While waiting for the water to boil, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and mince the garlic.

Step 3:
Chiffonade the basil.  Remove just the leaves from the stems and stack a small pile on a cutting board

Thinly shred the leaves with a sharp knife. {the thinner the better}

 You are officially prepped! {in the industry you would say you are all mise en placed out.... Mise en place means everything in its place}

Step 4:
Warm a saute pan on moderate-low heat. You can now go ahead and add the pasta to the boiling water pot.  Stir frequently so they don't clump or stick.  Add the extra virgin olive oil to the saute pan and let that warm slightly.  Add the tomatoes to the pan.  Season them with a little kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
 Cook until the seeds start to burst from the tomatoes and they wrinkle a little

Finally add the garlic and let it cook slightly until softened. Turn off the heat.  By this time the pasta should already be cooked and drained. Add the pasta and basil {and pine nuts} to the pan and toss it all together with a pair of tongs.
Plate and top with however much goat cheese you feel is necessary.  I love goat cheese so I'm usually pretty heavy handed with it....just do what you like.

Ta Da!! Dinner in 15 minutes.... suck on that one Rachel. Finished product:


  1. oh wow, this looks AMAZING. Where do you buy goat cheese? Just at the grocery store?

  2. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area that is the best place I have found to get it. Best price and quality. Otherwise any store will have it... vons, savemart, etc....


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