Pasta at Midnight

Put on the Ollies! – Pete Carlesimo

I could say that these cold winter nights are the reason I love to have a warm, delicious bowl of pasta at midnight. But then I’d be lying. I love having  pasta at midnight at any time of the year, although there’s something particularly satisfying about a bowl of your favorite pasta when there’s a chill in the air, and it’s been too long since dinner. Or maybe it’s 11:30, and, God forbid, you haven’t even eaten yet! Late night dinners in the Carlesimo family always meant one thing:  It was time to Put on the Ollies! Better known to the rest of the world as Linguini with Garlic and Oil, or Linguini con Aglio e Oglio, they were a favorite of my father’s, and he called them Ollies. When he looked down and his fingers started tapping on the kitchen table, you knew what that meant. Get out the pot and start chopping! I have probably created thirty variations on this basic recipe but it remains my go-to favorite.

We have all continued to follow this family tradition to varying degrees. There are those of us among the ten children who have other quick late night sauce favorites: a quick tuna or clam sauce, or a fresh tomato and basil. When we were visiting Rome about ten years ago, our Italian cousins,  Marta and Fredo, made Spaghetti with Olive Oil and Toasted Bread Crumbs for us. It was delicious, and so simple and easy to make that it’s become a family favorite ever since.

When I was in Graduate Film School, I made Spaghetti Carbonara at midnight for the cast and crew of my film. They had generously agreed to stay in town to finish the film, only to find themselves trapped in New Haven by a blizzard. They all missed their planes home for Christmas vacation. I made mountains of Carbonara and bought gallons of wine and we all ate and drank the night away. The food definitely helped, as did the wine and singing. Everyone did eventually get home.

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”–Giuseppe Verdi

Our good friends Debi Mazar (Goodfellas and Entourage) and her handsome Italian-born husband, Gabriele Corcos, are sharing one of their quick late night pasta sauces. They make it for an at-home date night. It’s Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana.  The story goes that shepherds came down from the Sabine hills with cheese and bacon and invented this dish which became a Roman specialty. Below is the recipe and link to the video. Debi and Gabriele premiered in a new series on the Cooking Channel on Wednesday, January 19, at 10 PM, called Extra Virgin. Congratulations, and check it out!

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

Photo courtesy of Under the Tuscan Gun


Delicious slightly spicy pasta with bacon and tomato sauce.


1 lb spaghetti is perfect.

1/2 Lb of streaky Bacon (or regular bacon)

2 spoonfuls of Olive Oil

½ red onion

250 g of tomatoes

½ red chilli pepper

100 g of pecorino cheese


Peel the tomatoes, cut into small pieces and drain of all the water; cut the bacon into cubes and allow to brown in the oil. When the fatty part becomes transparent, drain the cubes with a perforated ladle and put on one side; keep warm.

In the same oil used to brown the bacon, lightly fry the onion and chilli pepper chopped up finely; when these are a golden brown, add the pieces of tomato, a little salt and cook for about 10 minutes, then add the bacon.

Meanwhile, put a pot of salted water on to boil and cook the spaghetti, draining when “al dente”. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti, and add plenty of grated pecorino cheese. Fill up your glass of wine, have a toast: Salute!

To watch the video, click here

This recipe and video and many other family favorites are available on  Stop by and become part of this grass roots global food community!

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