We love you, spaghetti!
Today is National Spaghetti Day, because of course it is. But on a calendar crowded with dubious food holidays, this one might be worth your observance. Spaghetti is a staple. For some, it’s practically a generic word for pasta. Because of its extreme popularity—it's the most widely consumed pasta shape in Italy, according to the scholars at Academia Barilla—it's the one that many of us are inclined to overlook. But spaghetti, plain as it might seem, is amazingly versatile and undeniably delicious. Not too thick and not too thin, it's the ideal noodle in so many preparations (and it stands in admirably for any other long pasta shape, should the situation require it). And so, on this most arbitrary-sounding of holidays, let's take a moment to appreciate spaghetti. Here are just a few remarkably appealing things you can do with it:
You Can Cook It in Red Wine
This is the ultimate boozy pasta hack: just add red wine to the cooking water to develop complex flavor.
You Can Make It Extremely Fancy
Spaghetti is amazing with lobster. It takes well to sweet crab. But it doesn't need luxury additions to be opulent: Chef Scott Conant is famous for an extraordinarily well-calibrated tomato-basil spaghetti that's a favorite at the high-end Scarpetta. (And Roy Choi figured out how to emulate it at home for just $4 a serving).
You Can Make Carbonara
OK, you don't NEED to use spaghetti for pasta carbonara—it's also delicious with bucatini, linguini and even spaetzle-like frascatelli—but spaghetti carbonara is canon. And carbonara, with its alchemical blend of pork fat, eggs and starchy pasta water, is magic.
You Can Bake It
Though we're all used to making baked pasta dishes with short shapes like shells and ziti, there's good reason to make room in your lasagna pan for spaghetti. Chef Marc Murphy grew up in Genoa, where spaghetti was the pasta of choice, and his mom would use it in this insanely gooey mac and cheese.
You Can Toast It
Culinary demigod Ferran Adrià gave us this recipe (though he credits the idea to one of his acolytes, chef Moreno Cedroni). The method is similar to risotto, but spaghetti fills in for the arborio rice: Adrià toasts it in a pan with a little oil, then adds hot clam juice until the pasta is fully cooked and loaded with briny flavor.
You Can Let It Just Be Itself
No pasta in the world is better with meatballs. Make this classic Italian-American recipe tonight and contemplate spaghetti's subtle transcendence.