The instructions for boiling pasta often suggest removing some of the liquid in which it has been cooking just prior to draining it. The suggestion is usually that about half of a cup of liquid, or even less, be set aside in case the assembled ingredients are too dry once the sauce is added to the starch. It may be necessary to add some liquid no matter how simple or complex the mix may be. I usually make sure I’ve reserved a full cup, having learned from experience that it’s best to be prepared, especially when using artisanal pasta, and especially, although not necessarily only, when you end up mixing the elements over a flame for a minute or two.
When I prepared this particular dish I ended up adding, incredibly, almost two cups of liquid! Fortunately I was well prepared (I hate it when I have to add additional water out of the tap), since I had remembered setting aside far too little the last time I had used this particular brand of pasta.
It appears to be the case that the better the pasta is the more liquid it can absorb. I have no idea why this is, and I certainly don’t know how the linguine I used here was able to soak up such an extraordinary amount, unless it was because this excellent Abruzzi pasta had been shaped by bronze molds in its manufacture. Or maybe it was the leeks?
[the close-up picture at the bottom is actually not of the brand I used, Fara S. Martino Cav. Giuseppe Cocco. Instead it’s a detail of a handful of Garafalo linguine, which is also manufactured with bronze dies, but in Gragnano, in Campania, and the image comes from localflavour]
The recipe itself? I was in a hurry, so I didn’t want to go through my files; I knew I wanted to make pasta, and I had been holding onto some smallish leeks for a few days, so I checked on line for some ideas and in a quick look for “pasta with leeks”. I quickly found a suggestion here which was described as “Adapted from Cooking New American, by the Editors of Fine Cooking”.
- linguine with leeks, lemon (zest and juice) and walnuts (toasted), generously seasoned with crushed pepper (the leeks were from the Union Square Greenmarket, but I neglected to record where I had purchased them)
- wine: Sicilian, Corvo Insolia 2008 from Philippe Wine in Chelsea