No one appreciates a home-cooked meal like Alison Roman. And with her help, you could feel the same way – and maybe even kick that $$$ take-out habit. The food writer and recipe developer’s first cookbook “Dining In” is a gorgeous guidebook to creating effortless, photogenic dishes that will make your friends wonder when you became a culinary wonder. And it’s filled with kitchen “hacks” you’d actually want to eat — think: chicken slathered in anchovy butter for quick flavor, egg-yolk-sauces, and punchy roasted citrus.
We were instantly drawn to the book due to Alison’s style – the photographs, like the recipes, instantly induce cravings, not just for the meals but for her sublime, witty take on the otherwise humdrum task of cooking at home. It’s a concept we feel a kinship with, this knack for elevating the everyday (without a fuss), and shining a spotlight on simple, beautiful food with classic, high-quality dinnerware. An Alison Roman recipe is flavorful, rich, and without the air of intimidation you usually find in cookbooks. So. We had to know: What’s her take on our favorite ritual, the midnight meal?
We’ve asked chefs before (George Mendes and Mark Ladner have shared their secrets), because what’s more thrilling than knowing what an expert is cooking at home, alone, when cravings strike. “You need to feel like you are being held from the inside,” Alison says. Essentially, the culinary equivalent of a hug. The other necessity? Ease.
“If I’m drunk, and let’s say that I am, I probably shouldn’t be opening any cans or anything,” Alison admits. “You can cut yourself. I’ve done it when I’m not drunk. Have a buddy in the kitchen. Don’t get any crazy knife work ideas.”
But who wouldn’t brave it all for this dish — Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Bucatini — which utilizes pre-roasted tomatoes (something she always keeps on hand), anchovies, and her must-do pasta water (“Dry sticky pasta is not a great look for anyone.”). It’s fairly easy to throw together, and not too fancy to enjoy if you’ve been slightly compromised by an evening out.
“I’ve made this pasta for dinner, gone out, come back and had the cold leftovers in the fridge,” Alison said. “It wears many hats.”
Here it is, in Alison’s own words.
While you could use canned tomatoes here, the real joy comes from using tomatoes slow roasted in olive oil. As they roast, their sugars come out and caramelize, water evaporates, and flavors concentrate, making a superlative tomato sauce. When I’m blessed with an abundance of tomatoes in the summer, I like to make this sauce and freeze it so that I can eat this pasta in the coldest months, when I want it the most.
WHAT YOU NEED:
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
Crushed red pepper flakes
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 recipe Olive Oil–Roasted Tomatoes (page 38) or 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
Lots of grated Parmesan cheese
DO AHEAD: Tomato sauce can be made 5 days ahead and refrigerated or 1 month ahead and frozen.
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the onion and season with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is totally cooked through but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the anchovies and stir until they’ve melted into the pan, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook until it turns a brick-red color and sticks a bit to the bottom of the pan, about 90 seconds.
3. Add the tomatoes, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the skillet. Season with salt and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, swirling the skillet occasionally, until the sauce thickens and it tastes so good you can hardly stand it. Add more salt and red pepper flakes if you want. Keep warm and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
5. Add the pasta along with ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to the skillet and toss to coat. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the pasta is really well coated, the sauce sticking to each individual noodle in a way that can only be described as perfect.
Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the pasta to a large bowl, or divide it among four smaller bowls. Top with lots of Parmesan cheese.
Get your own copy of “Dining In” here.
Recipe reprinted from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes. Copyright © 2017 by Alison Roman. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.