The Saucier in a traditional kitchen is a highly regarded and important position. There is specific training required to learn how to build flavors, achieve correct viscosity and shine.
Traditional French sauces rely heavily on butter and cream. There is an ancient historical divide in culinary traditions between cultures that cooked with animal fats such as butter and those whose sauces were olive oil based. The Romans felt sorry for the folks in their conquered lands because their cuisines did not include olive oil.
Sauce is indeed boss and while butter sauces certainly have their charm, olive oil and its rich polyphenols do present themselves as a more health friendly choice for regular dining.
Olive oil with herbs and salt can provide a completely simple and delicious sauce for meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. It can be used to marinate soft cheese. Pesto and chimmichurri are two olive oil based sauces that can finish a wide variety of dishes and make them shine. Bagna Cuda, literally translated as a “hot bath” combines butter and olive oil as a dip for vegetables. It is often served as a holiday appetizer consumed and shared much like fondue.
One of the most simple and delicious sauces for pasta is a very old Italian recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It is a warming and satisfying dish you make for late nite supper when all you have in your pantry is dry pasta and really good olive oil. McEvoy Tradition Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Limited Edition or Organic Lemon Oil would all be outstanding choices in this recipe!
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
1 pound uncooked dried spaghetti
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup McEvoy Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. The water should taste “salty like the sea”.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Stir pasta while cooking so it does not stick together.
- Drain pasta and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Heat olive oil on low to medium heat and add sliced garlic. (Your pan should be large enough to hold the cooked pasta.) Cook slowly to gently toast the garlic.
- Reduce heat when olive oil begins to bubble. Be very careful not to let the garlic get too brown because it will be bitter.
- When garlic just begins to turn golden, add red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Add the reserved pasta water to the pan carefully so it doesn’t splatter.
- Lower heat, add 1 teaspoon salt and simmer until liquid has reduced by approximately one third.
- Add drained pasta to the pan with olive oil and garlic and toss.
- Take pan off the heat and toss with grated cheese and parsley. Let sit for a few minutes for the sauce to absorb.
- Taste for seasoning.
- Serve warm with grated black pepper.