When you come home hungry after a long night, the last thing you want to do is whip up an elaborate meal. But you can probably assemble a bowl of pasta with whatever you have on hand? The Italians are one step ahead of you: they call it spaghettata di mezzanotte. It’s the smartest tradition for tucking a night of partying into bed. The best part about spaghettata is that it doesn’t have to be spaghetti or special pantry ingredients. It’s all about whipping up a tasty pasta dish in the short amount of time you have before you swoon, and that’s just another wonderful culinary contribution from Italy. Prepare the delicious midnight spaghetti this weekend!
Spaghettata di Mezzanotte – the quick, classic recipe
This pasta is a late-afternoon tradition in many Italian homes. Using the tastiest ingredients from the fridge, like garlic, capers, parmesan and peppery arugula, the recipe comes together in about 30 minutes.
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
200 grams of spaghetti
Peeled fresh garlic
200g cooked white beans
200g diced tomatoes
35 g bread crumbs
50g grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon capers
90 g arugula
30 grams of ricotta
Preparation of the traditional midnight spaghetti:
Wash the vegetables before cooking.
* Cook the spaghetti
Bring a medium-sized saucepan with plenty of salted water to a boil.
Add the spaghetti and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve 60ml pasta cooking water.
While the water is heating and the spaghetti cooking, prepare the sauce.
* Start with the sauce
Finely chop, press or grate enough garlic to measure 1 teaspoon.
Rinse the white beans.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the beans and cook for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, prepare the breadcrumbs.
* Prepare breadcrumbs
Pluck the parsley leaves from the stalks and roughly chop.
Spread the breadcrumbs in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast in oven until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour into a small bowl to cool. Stir in the parsley and parmesan.
While the crumbs are toasting, prepare the remaining ingredients.
* Prepare the remaining ingredients and finish the pasta
Rinse the capers.
Roughly chop the arugula.
Stir in the capers and arugula into the sauce and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from stove. Add the spaghetti and reserved pasta cooking water and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the noodles into individual bowls. Crumble the ricotta cheese over it, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and serve.
The Sicilian midnight spaghetti
This is a delicious “I have no idea what to cook, but I need something quick from the pantry” recipe. This is the Sicilian version, with the pasta, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and raisins belong to the staple foods. Add some parsley from the garden or balcony and the best pasta is ready. Spaghettata di mezzanotte is an Italian tradition and ingredients vary by region or family.
Ingredients (for 4 servings):
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 garlic cloves or to taste, roughly chopped
8 anchovy fillets in oil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and left whole
1 or 2 pinches of crushed red pepper
30 g parsley, roughly chopped
40 grams of raisins
40 g pine nuts, toasted
120 ml extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for serving
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add salt and spaghetti. Cook until they are “al dente”.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Don’t let it get brown. Add anchovies, capers, red pepper, raisins and pine nuts. Stir well, turn off the heat and keep warm.
Drain the spaghetti and return to the saucepan. Pour the garlic sauce over and add the parsley. Toss well to make sure everything is well covered. Serve sprinkled with parmesan.
Spaghetti al tonno as a version of midnight spaghetti
Ingredients (for 4 servings):
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 onion, diced
400g mashed canned tomatoes
150g canned tuna
30 g chopped parsley
Preparation of midnight spaghetti with tuna:
Cook 500g spaghetti (or other long pasta) in a large saucepan of boiling salted water.
Heat oil on medium .Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
Add the onion and cook until soft, then add the canned tomatoes and 120ml water. Simmer for 3 minutes, then add the tuna.
Add the pasta to the sauce with 150 ml pasta cooking water. Cook the pasta until the sauce thickens and sticks to the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Use more pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley.