I was making lunch for my wife and myself the other day, and had settled on a simple pasta. I had a nice heirloom pineapple tomato I needed to use, and would go from there.
In the cupboard, I found an open box of ciriole di farro noodles (farro, for the uninitiated, is an ancient Roman grain related to barley) that would work beautifully as a canvas.
People — including my wife, who lives in perpetual fear of me being out for an evening and having to actually make dinner — often ask me about simple dishes they can make in a pinch, and here was a perfect example.
On my cutting board, ready to toss into a pan of warm olive oil, was that tomato, cut up; some smashed garlic; four or five anchovies, broken up; and a bit of Maldon salt. Even though I had no videographer around, I decided it needed to be filmed in order to prove how very easy it was. So forgive the poor cinematography as I attempt to film with one hand and cook with the other.
The point, as it often is on this blog, is that if you’ve got really good ingredients — and you only need a few in a single dish — your greatest challenge is to simply get out of the way.
I hope you may enjoy this pasta, or that it might inspire you to add your own signature. You could use any type of tomato you wanted, you could skip the anchovies and add pancetta or bacon instead, you could add freshly chopped basil or choose a different finishing cheese like romano or asiago. While I used ciriole di farro, you could just as easily use penne or spaghetti.
And as you settle down to eat, don’t forget to raise a glass of wine to the simple things in life.
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Ciriole di farro with heirloom tomato
1 lb. ciriole di farro or other pasta
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 lb. heirloom tomato
4-5 anchovy filets, broken up
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. flaky sea salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
crushed red pepper (optional)
Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. of salt, and then the pasta.
Meanwhile, cut the tomato into rough chunks. Chop the garlic, and break up the anchovy filets. When the pasta is a few minutes from being done, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato, garlic, anchovy and sea salt. Stir frequently.
When the pasta is al dente, scoop from the pasta water into the pan with the sauce. Turn heat to high and cook for about 1 minute, tossing frequently, to coat noodles with sauce.
Remove from heat and toss parmesan into pasta. Adjust seasoning to your taste with salt. With tongs, scoop pasta onto plates. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with cheese and red pepper, if you’d like.
Open a bottle of wine and enjoy.