The goal was simple — the most intense garlic pasta I could muster.
But there was a caveat. There is no joy in a dish that reeks of too much garlic, or that is so potent it is inedible. I wanted a garlic pasta that was deeply savory and delicious, that dripped with garlic flavor in every bite, but pleasantly so and without leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
The solution? A simple sauce made from garlic that is poached and pureed. The poaching mellows the garlic's intensity, but not its flavor. Combine the puree with grated Parmesan cheese and a splash of the pasta cooking water and you have a pasta dish that is over-the-top delicious and outrageously garlicky.
This recipe calls for 2 cups of garlic cloves. And yet it calls for very little else. You will be amazed at the depth of flavor you get from so few ingredients. And while I'm not normally a fan of buying pre-peeled garlic, I make an exception for this recipe. It would be a pain to peel that many cloves.
FETTUCCINE WITH GARLIC-PARMESAN PUREE
Want to make this recipe vegetarian? Swap vegetable broth for the chicken broth.
Start to finish: 25 minutes
2 cups garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups chicken broth
12 ounces fettuccine pasta
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
Salt and ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the garlic and broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 12 minutes, or until the broth is reduced by half and the garlic is very tender. Transfer the garlic and broth to a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Pour the garlic puree over the pasta. Using tongs, toss the pasta with the sauce, sprinkling in the cheese as you do it. When the cheese is nearly melted, drizzle in enough of the reserved pasta cooking water to form a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper, then serve topped with additional Parmesan.
Nutrition information per serving: 420 calories; 90 calories from fat (21 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 59 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 24 g protein; 850 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at email@example.com