One of the world’s favorite dishes, spaghetti is more than deserving of its own little holiday. And because it is both simple and delicious, spaghetti is the perfect dish to make to bring out your inner chef, even if you don’t have all that much cooking experience!
The History of Spaghetti Day
Many people don’t know that the first historical reference to boiled noodles suggests that the Arabs invented the dish thousands of years ago, long before it became a staple of Italian cuisine. What’s especially remarkable about this is that historical records actually refer to dried noodles being purchased from a street vendor, which means that pasta has been sold in stores since at least the 5th century A.D.! Of course, today we associate pasta with the Italians, who revolutionized the dish and invented a wide variety of pasta shapes. The first Western pasta was likely long, thin forms made in Sicily around the 12th century; till this day, spaghetti is the most common round-rod type of pasta and in Italian, “spaghetti” means “little lines.” However, the popularity of pasta only spread across the whole country of Italy after the establishment of pasta factories in the 19th century, substantially shortening the time needed for making dishes like spaghetti and enabling the mass production of pasta for the Italian market. The steady flow of Italian immigrants to the United States brought traditional Italian dishes with it, and spaghetti was offered in restaurants as early as the 19th century. Spaghetti then gained popularity all over the world.
How to Celebrate Spaghetti Day
Ingredients: (serves 2)
1/2 medium onion
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
200g tin chopped tomatoes
20g pack basil leaves, chopped finely
200g dried spaghetti (roughly half of a 500g pack)
100g ball mozzarella
a few pinches of salt & a bit of oil for the pasta
Peel the onion and the garlic and chop both finely. Set a large frying pan over medium heat and when hot, pour in the oil then add the onion. Cook the onion for about 4-5 mins, or until it softens, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, cook 2 mins more until fragrant. Then, add the tomatoes and half the basil. Leave to gently bubble for 15 mins or so, stirring occasionally–the sauce should become thick and pulpy. Break up any large clumps of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
Pour water ¾ of the way up your largest pot. Heat over a high heat and add several large pinches of salt and a spoon or so of oil. When water has reached a rolling boil, put the spaghetti in it. Giving it a stir every now ad then stir to separate the pasta, cook it according to pack instructions, usually about 10 mins. Before you finish cooking it, taste a strand of the pasta. It should be just soft, but not mushy. Scoop out a cup of water before draining and set aside (this will help to loosen your sauce). Put the drained pasta back into its cooking pan, then pour in the tomato sauce. Give everything a good stir. The sauce should just coat the pasta, but if it is thick and looks dry, stir in a few spoons of the pasta water you set aside before. If it is watery, cook over a low heat for 2-3 mins or until evaporated, stirring often. Use your hands to break the mozzarella into chunky pieces and stir through the pasta along with the remaining basil leaves. Serve straight away.