How Can “Sweaty” be a Good Thing?
I know that this may not sound that appetizing but it makes me laugh so just roll with it. The reason it’s a good thing is because “sweaty” garlic pasta refers to the method in which the garlic is prepared. In this recipe we sweat the garlic in the pan as opposed to sauteing the garlic. Sweating is the term used when you cook aromatic veggies in a relatively small amount of oil and cook them over low heat. This draws out the moisture, cooks them down so they are soft and prevents them from burning. In this dish, the garlic almost melts into the oil and creates a decadent “sauce” of sorts.
I always recommend starting the garlic in a cold pan. This ensures that you will not accidentally brown or burn the garlic by throwing it into a hot pan. Bring the heat up slowly. When you start to see the garlic just begin to sizzle, then it’s ready to be joined by the veggies.
So what kind of veggies are going in this dish? I personally think you could use anything but the best candidates for this dish are veggies that have a lot of moisture in them. This means that summer veggies such as zucchini and eggplant, are great candidates as are winter and fall veggies such as spinach, chard, cauliflower and broccoli. These veggies all get nice and sweet and deep in flavor when they are cooked over low heat with piles of garlic. The key is to keep everything over a low heat until they are tender. Adding salt to the pan with the veggies helps draw out the moisture so the veggies can cook in their own juices.
Pro tip: start your salted water boiling for pasta before you start the recipe. Then you’ll have perfectly timed pasta. If the pasta is done before your veggies are, add a little olive oil to the pasta to keep it from sticking. Once the veggies are all nice and soft, add the pasta to the dish. Mix it all up so that the pasta gets nice and coated in that garlicky goodness and then serve with a little chiffonade of basil and Parmesan cheese or toasted pine nuts. This is one of my most favorite dishes and it’s also one of the simplest. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
- 1/2 lb of pasta cooked to package instructions
- 1-2 lbs of vegetables, washed and chopped (eggplant, zucchini, spinach, chard, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, etc.)
- 1/2 a head of garlic, pressed
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 5 basil leaves, rolled and cut into chiffonade
- Salt to taste
- Optional: Parmesan cheese, pine nuts
- In a pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, toss in olive oil and set aside.
- In a large pan add the olive oil and pressed garlic. Turn on the flame to low. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the chopped vegetables and a large pinch of salt.
- Cook vegetables over low heat until they are tender and cooked. You may have to add water if they start to brown.
- When the vegetables are cooked, toss the pasta into the pan with the veggies to coat.
- Garnish with basil and Parmesan cheese or pine nuts.