Spaghetti all’ Assassina
and late blooming
In my experience as one of those kids, you know, the too-smart-for-their-own-good, anxious, prone-to-perfectionism, and in my case, a lot of cases it seems, emotionally neglected kid, I oftentimes feel as though I am a late bloomer.
The time it would take to pick this apart doesn’t exist, so allow me to hastily get to where I am going with this.
I am late to trust, to know (the one thing *it doesn’t exist for me) what I want to be when I grow up, late to understand how my body, heart, and brain operate when they aren’t in survival mode.
I am late to discover that there are in fact, people that have multiple folders to categorize ALL their emails, late to understand that crying several times a day “for no reason” isn’t actually all that normal, late to realizing that my fat body has been, and is still so good to me,late to understand that it is okay to cancel plans, and late to know that in actuality, I am right on time.
As I have done every year for the past five, I “like” to go back and look at the previous new year’s musings and reflections.
Much to my cringe-factor, I am pleased to report that the last couple years haven’t been nearly as cringe-worthy as they were in the past. Long gone are my days of weighing my peanut butter to the gram, making weight-lifting my personality, and really towing the #Girlboss line (yikes). I no longer enter tomorrow’s calories into an app, I don’t say things to myself or others like, “if you wanted it, you would work harder” (double yikes), and I am not here to tell you that if you “want your world to change, you need to get over yourself.” *Yes/and, you also exist under capitalism so if everything feels hard right now, that’s because it is!
I no longer find victory in changing my body but instead changing my understanding of the world and how I show up in it. While I still love weight lifting, I no longer measure my progress and worth in PRs (personal records) but rather how soft I am with my partner or my kids. The moments I find myself reacting with curiosity instead of defensiveness, how often I surround myself with my community and show up for them, and whether I have set aside enough, or any, time at all to simply exist with myself.
While I might be a late bloomer in several areas of life, I am not new to the understanding of concentrating, layering and building flavors in a meal. A miraculous feat considering I used to use roasted spaghetti squash as a replacement for… oatmeal.
This pasta dish is the first thing I cooked upon arriving home from our trip that was supposed to be Mexico turned Hawai’i (I’ll save that story and our engagement (!!) for next week).
If you have been around for anytime at all, you know my affinity for simple yet delicious meals. Ones that don’t require a ton of ingredients but quality ones, simplistic, and that are relatively easy to make.
Yes, this recipe needs more of your attention than boiling noodles and then dumping the jar of room temperature sauce into the still-hot pot, and adding the noodles back in (can you tell I do this once a week?) but hardly, I promise.
Get good quality tomato paste and jarred passata in lieu of canned tomatoes if you can. Quality olive oil is important always, but especially in recipes with so few ingredients. Be easy with the red pepper flakes initially and note that some stores carry different spice levels. Add a couple anchovies in with the garlic, not traditionally in Spaghetti all’ Assassina, and just trust me on allowing the spaghetti to “burn” a bit.
Spaghetti all’ Assassina
3 cups jarred tomato passata
3 1/2 cups hot water
1/4 olive oil
4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
1 pound of uncooked spaghetti
In a medium saucepan, combine the tomato sauce and hot water, set to medium heat and bring to a simmer.
In a large dutch oven or cast-iron skillet, add the olive oil and garlic to a cold pot and set the heat to medium low. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, increase the heat to medium, add the red pepper flakes, tomato paste and anchovies. Smash the paste and anchovies to incorporate into the oil.
Using a ladle, add about 1/2-1 cup of the tomato broth into the pot, enough to thoroughly coat the bottom, and mix with the other ingredients. Add the dried pasta into the pan on top of the sauce. I don’t recommend breaking the pasta, but allow it to hang out on top of the sauce until it becomes a bit more pliable so you can arrange them into as much of an even layer as possible. Add another cup of the tomato broth on top of the pasta, once again shifting the pasta and coaxing it into an even layer (I find this part to be easiest with a fork until the pasta has softened). Allow to cook, untouched, for 3-5 minutes, or until the pasta has absorbed the broth. Once again you’re going to do the same adding of the broth (if you’re noticing, yes, this technique is similar to making risotto), coaxing the pasta into an even layer without breaking, and letting it go for another 3-5 minutes untouched. Around the 10 minute mark, or second “round”, you will want to leave the pasta alone long enough for the bottom of the pasta to begin to sizzle, stick a bit, and even char. These crunchy bits (without literally burning) are part of the name itself, lend wonderful texture, and further intensifies the tomato flavor. If you’re not getting the char effect, increase the heat to medium-high for a minute or two, flip the pasta over, and repeat the adding-of-the-broth (it should be gone or on it’s last “round” by now) and allow the pasta to finish, just to al dente.
If for whatever reason you find that you still have some cooking to go or like your pasta softer, add a bit more hot water until you reach your desired texture.
I top ours with parmigiano reggiano because what is tomato without cheese, honestly, and serve immediately.
The leftovers are fire, by the way.
This is what I have to offer you in the new year, ya’ll. Encouragement to examine how you can show up softer with yourselves and others, permission to bloom however late that may be, and a hella spicy pasta dish, k?
You make my world go ‘round, in more ways than you know. Thank you for contributing to my ability to write from a place of wonder and love, take care of my hearts, and show up in a way that I hope is meaningful to those of you that are reading this today.
I am endlessly grateful for you and your support.
The Biggest Love,
Recently published: Coming soon!
Currently Reading: So many books, I should be ashamed. List includes- Girlhood, Woke Parenting, Stone Butch Blues (yes, there’s more)
Currently Listening To: Something In The Orange by Zach Bryan
Currently Cooking: Miso cod (tomorrow)