This is one of my go-to pasta recipes. I’ve never posted it because I’ve never measured anything and I really do use whatever I happen to have handy in terms of herbs. In the summer I use a generous amount of fresh herbs and sometimes omit the dried ones entirely.
This recipe is a great chance to experiment with flavoured oils or vinegars as well as with herbs. If substituting a flavoured oil, I recommend only substituting 1-2 tbsp rather than the whole 1/4 cup. I also like using a full 1/4 cup of balsamic, but it really does depend on the balsamic you are using- start with the smaller amount and increase according to taste.
What is Braising?
Braising is a combination cooking method where both dry and moist cooking techniques are used. Usually it involves browning meat in a pan with a bit of oil (dry cooking) and then cooking in a broth, or wine for a long time over a low temperature (moist cooking). You CAN actually braise garlic- you saute it first and then usually finish it by cooking in cream until garlic is tender. Garlic prepared this way is usually used for soups, creamy sauces or mashed potatoes. Technically, the garlic in this recipe isn’t braised, because there’s no ‘moist cooking’ component, but it borrows from the ‘low and slow’ technique used in braising.
Time: about 20 minutes start to finish – everything should be done by the time your pasta water has boiled and your pasta has cooked (unless you have a crazy induction cooktop and your water boils in 2 minutes)
Serves: 2 people who like pasta 🙂
You will need:
- 2 cups (uncooked) of your favourite smallish pasta that will hold onto the minimal ingredients for this recipe. I love conchiglie (small shells) or cappelletti (little hats)
- ¼ cup of olive oil, or a mix of olive and canola, or a mix of a flavoured olive oil and regular
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
- ½ tsp each dried oregano, basil, thyme – or any mix of herbs you like
- About 1 ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 2 -4 tbsp, depending on the flavour of the balsamic being used
- Additional generous handful of fresh herbs to finish-flat leaf parsley, basil, whatever you have from the garden!
Over low heat, braise the garlic in the oil. DO NOT brown the garlic. You want this cooked over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Garlic should be soft, mild flavoured and fragrant.
Grate cheese and set aside.
While garlic is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions(remember to season your water!)
About 1 minute before the pasta is cooked, add the dried herbs to the garlic and oil.
**This part you need to work fast! The heat from the pasta is what melts the cheese.
Drain the pasta, add the garlic, oil and herbs, fresh herbs to the pasta and give a quick stir. Sprinkle the grated cheese in, stirring as you do so you don’t end up with a big ‘clump’.
When cheese has melted, add the vinegar.
Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.