Spice of Life: Serving up pasta from my kitchen to yours

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

On Monday, flavors of Italy swirled around in my culinary mind, and that led me to cooking a simple spaghetti dish.

Spaghetti aio oio is an old Roman dish that consists of pasta, garlic, chili pepper, olive oil and grated cheese.

Artichoke hearts and mushrooms ended up in the pot with my version.

When the dish was done, I enjoyed my homemade dinner that included a spring vegetable salad, fresh bread and a glass of wine.

Sometimes I forget how versatile pasta is.

Normally I like to eat pasta with a red sauce made with lots of fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, basil and a dash of red wine.

When eating the finished product, the only care I have exists if a white shirt is wrapped around my body.

But sometimes a pasta does not need to be adorned with a colorful and robust sauce.

“The strands of spaghetti were vital,

almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It

was hard to

imagine that four simple ingredients (olive oil, pasta, garlic and

cheese) could marry so perfectly,” former Gourmet magazine

editor-in-chief and famed food writer Ruth Reichel wrote in the

book “Tender at the Bone”.

As I wrapped those noodles around my fork and slowly prepared for my first bite, the pleasant aroma of garlic and cheese gently

danced around my nose and mouth and tantalized my olfactory senses.

I ate slowly. For the first time in a very long while, I sensed the different flavors on my plate and was amazed just like


I have eaten simply prepared dishes before and felt just as inspired, but every now and then a moment of kitchen perfection

— or as close to one as possible — occurs. When it does, it is etched in your culinary soul.

The recipe that follows is from my kitchen.

I encourage you to try it. Make the additions and subtractions you are comfortable with.

Ultimately, I hope you enjoy a simple yet flavorful dining moment that will etch its way into the deepest part of you cooking


Spaghetti and Vegetables with olive oil sauce


• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

• 1/2 cup white mushrooms, sliced

• 1 6-ounce container of Progresso artichoke hearts marinated

• 1/3 cup olive oil

• 1 pounds spaghetti

• Salt and crushed pepper to taste

• Grated Parmesan


• Boil spaghetti. When pasta is al dente (firm but not hard), place in colander and drain. Set aside.

• Pour oil in frying pan and heat. Add garlic and saute until turning brown. Do not burn the garlic!

• Add red pepper flakes, mushrooms and artichoke to skillet and continue sauteing until done.

• Add salt and pepper.

• Place spaghetti in serving bowl and pour garlic and vegetable sauce over. Mix well. Serve with salad, garlic bread and white wine.


Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at ecormier@americanpress.com or 494-4090.