Keeping Pasta Simple

pastaI definitely had my share of pasta while in Italy. One thing I learned about pasta in Italy is that the chefs keep their dishes very simple, with very few ingredients. I asked the chef at Bar Bruno in Positano how they make their pesto and he kindly gave me the recipe, but the one thing that stuck out to me from the conversation was that he said “you want the flavor of the noodle to be present”. I never thought about it, but when I look at images of pasta dishes in Italy there is barely any sauce. I’m not talking about a red gravy – I’m talking about a white pasta with clams, or pasta with veggies. The noodles take a quick dip in a very good olive oil in a sauté pan then topped with cheese and that’s it. With this dish, I wanted to keep it simple. Even though the dried hot cherry peppers are hard to find, it’s really the only ingredient in this dish. I took the seeds out, sliced them in half, then fried them in olive oil. Once they turned black, I took them out of the pan, and transferred al dente spaghetti into the pan with pasta water and the olive oil that cooked the peppers. The starchy water combined with the pepper infused olive oil formed this golden sauce that was very tasty. I then topped it off with Pecorino Romano cheese and more black pepper.


  • 5 Dried Hot Cherry Peppers – Seeds out, sliced in half (use dried chili if can’t find cherry peppers)
  • 1/3 LB Spaghetti (1/3 of a Spaghetti Box)
  • 1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • Black Pepper


  1. In a large pan, salt boiled water and cook pasta until al dente
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 TBS Olive Oil in a sauté pan and add the peppers
  3. Fry for 5-10 minutes until blackened, then take out of the pan
  4. Add a ladle of the pasta water to the sauté pan, then add the cooked spaghetti and swirl.
  5. Take pan off the heat and add black pepper, half of the cheese, and the peppers
  6. Mix around until a sauce forms between the cheese and pasta water
  7. Top with remaining cheese then serve


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