Seldom do we come across a superb dish in a restaurant only to find that we can never get that same dish again, anywhere. Well, that happened to me back in 1979. Marie and I ate at a local middle class Italian restaurant named Marina’s® in Wilmington DE which she knew, but which was new to me. I happened to spot an entrée that I had never seen before and I decided to try it. Wow! It was pungent and it knocked my socks off! I had so much garlic on my breath after eating that meal that I could have breathed on a large oak tree and knocked it down! Okay, I’m just kidding, but the garlic was really there. In fact, all the different flavors were intense, and that pleased me highly.
The recipe title above simply means linguine with garlic and oil. But as served to me at Marina’s® that one time, the garlic had been sautéed with anchovies and halved ripe olives as well. Of course, I used a liberal amount of grated Parmesan cheese on top. What made the dish so superb was the precise cooking of the slices of garlic such that they were sautéed to the point of being sticky, not soft, yet they were not crisp. There is that magic point in sautéing garlic where the flavor is most intense and the garlic sticky so that it will stick to your teeth. That may not sound appetizing but believe me it was/is unforgettably delicious. Even a slight undercooking or overcooking will not result in the right effect.
I was never able to have that dish again in any restaurant, including Marina’s®. I attempted to tell the chefs in numerous restaurants, via the waitresses, exactly how to cook the dish, to no avail. They blew it every time in different ways. I was so annoyed I decided to make perfection myself. And I did. And now so can you.
Ingredients: (Serves two or three adults)
3/4 lb. of linguine (uncooked)
4 oz. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1, 2 oz. tin of flat anchovies in olive oil
6 oz. of extra large ripe olives, sliced in half lengthwise (one can, drained net weight)
6 cloves (or more, yes, more!) of fresh garlic, sliced 1/16 to 1/8th of an inch thick lengthwise
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (used at serving time)
1/2 tsp. of sea salt
Prepare a large pot of boiling water, half full in a one gallon or six quart pot on high heat. When the water boils add the sea salt and turn off the heat and cover the pot.
Put the olive oil into a medium to large skillet. Add the tin of anchovies including the oil in the tin.
Prepare the drained ripe olives by slicing them in half lengthwise. Add them to the skillet.
Heat the skillet on medium heat to begin the sauté process and mix the contents. The anchovies will break up and seem to disappear during sautéing. Once the ripe olives begin to bubble as they lose water reduce the heat to low. Stir every few minutes. You may want to cover the skillet with a screen cover as the olives often cause oil to expel from the skillet as they sauté.
Prepare the sliced garlic while the skillet contents sauté.
Meanwhile, reheat the pot of water to boiling on high heat and add the linguine and stir well after one minute to assure it will not stick together while cooking. Follow the directions on the box for cooking time to obtain an al dente (literally "to the teeth," which means not cooked to the point of total softness) degree of doneness.
Add the sliced garlic to the sauté skillet when the olives show wrinkling on the outside surfaces.
Reduce the heat to low while the garlic sautés. Remove the skillet from the heat when the outside edges of the garlic turn slightly tan. That is the exact time to stop the cooking process.
Drain the linguine and put it onto a platter. Pour the sauté skillet contents over the linguine, mix and serve.
Each person can add Parmesan cheese to his or her liking on an individual portion, and then mix again.
This dish is best served with cold beer to counter/complement the intense flavors, though younger folks may prefer a different carbonated beverage.
Also, a fresh salad with Italian dressing will provide some useful vinegar contrast to the oil and garlic of the main dish. In general, contrasts make both types of food more enjoyable as each clears the palate for fresh enjoyment of the other food. Taking a drink of beer or wine or some other flavored beverage will also contribute to the contrast effect.
This stuff is so good I almost became Italian!