There are recipes that wait patiently and quietly for their time in the light - after having made this dish, I wondered why it took me so long to do so.
Jamie Oliver describes this recipe as being the most basic dish to make, using the simplest sauce. Don't let the seemingly difficult preparation hold you back - it's really quite effortless.
It's silky, it's luxurious - the garlic butter and Parmesan literally caress the pasta.
Jamie Oliver's Pasta Bianco
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
1 1/2 ounces butter
1 lb tagliatelle or fettucine
2 or 3 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small shallow pan, slowly fry the garlic in the butter without coloring for a few minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, and cook according to the package instructions. When it's done, drain it in a colander over a bowl so you save some of the starchy cooking water. Reserving this water and using it to finish off a pasta sauce is absolutely critical to getting any pasta sauce right, especially this one.
Get yourself a big, warmed pasta or salad bowl and pour your melted garlic butter into it so that the whole surface is covered. Then toss in your cooked pasta with about 5 or 6 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water and the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. With tongs or two forks, toss the pasta around. The butter, garlic, water and Parmesan will form a really creamy sauce.
What you need to do next is get everyone round the table. You may have to keep feeding the pasta with a little of the reserved cooking water, so the sauce stays silky and delicate and not too sticky. Once you get the consistency right, serve the pasta into bowls and pass round a big chunk of Parmesan cheese and a grater.
There are many ways of varying this sauce - you can lay some prosciutto over, or stir some chopped tomatoes into your garlic butter before removing from the heat, or you can incorporate different cheeses, but the key is to get simple, well seasoned, delicate pasta coated in a butter cheese sauce.
Once you get this pasta exactly right, try to make it with a bit more speed the next time - the quicker you can do it and get it right, the better the pasta will be.