Ginger may seem an unusual ingredient in Italian cuisine, but, in the Middle Ages, before hot peppers were available in Italy, it was quite popular.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that ginger was used centuries ago to spike certain dishes and it is still used to replace hot peppers in the famous pasta dish Bucatini all’Amatriciana in some areas. In Florence, it is also a common ingredient in Pollo alla Diavola, with black peppercorns and hot peppers.
I have always been told that sailors, in Medieval times, had to eat lemons during their long travels to prevent them from having scurvy. That is what we learn in school anyways. Apparently, others kept ginger on board because it is also rich in vitamin C. Who knew?
Linguine alla zenzero, aglio e peperoncino
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 fresh hot red pepper, seeded, finely chopped (or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
450 g (1 pound) linguine
salt to taste
1. Put a pot of water to boil to cook the pasta.
2. In a skillet large enough to fit the pasta, heat the oil over low heat and add the garlic, the hot red pepper and the ginger and cook, stirring continuously until bubbly and fragrant, a few minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.
3. Once the water reaches the boiling point, add salt and cook the linguine for 1 minute less than indicated on the package.
4. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water (you probably won’t need it all).
5. Over medium heat, cook the pasta in the sauce, stirring constantly with tongs, and adding a few tablespoons of water at a time, for one minute or until it is cooked to your liking. Keep the pasta a bit humid. Add the parsley and serve immediately in warm bowls.