Sauce Carrettiera, is in short, a miracle sauce. Contrary to popular beliefs about spaghetti sauce, this sauce takes almost no time to simmer and is ready to go by the time your pasta has finished cooking. It is quick, and spicy, and satisfying- the perfect meal for college students doing some late night studying or for parents who need a quick bite before dropping the kids off at soccer practice. In fact, it is the go-to meal for university students in Italy- it’s pretty inexpensive too!
This sauce’s miraculous powers come from two key ingredients: the fresh Parmesan cheese and the red pepper flakes.
The marriage of these two ingredients is celebrated so perfectly in this dish that I cannot imagine eating Carrettiera sauce without the cheese. It would be like peanut butter with no jelly; an ice cream sundae with no whipped cream. The heat of the red pepper is both mellowed and complemented by the Parmesan; it helps bring out the ‘umami’ flavor of the cheese.
So, next time you’re in a hurry, or just don’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking, try Carrettierra. The heat and immediate satisfaction will have your feeling as macho and spicy-hot as the muscular cart-pullers this sauce was named after- (Carrettiera originates from the Italian word for ‘cart-pullers’ and refers to the large, muscular, ‘macho’ men who spent all day doing this hard work and who came home to eat this spicy sauce for dinner).
Spaghetti alla Carrettiera
- 26-28 oz strained peeled tomatoes (like the Pomi brand) or canned, peeled tomatoes that have been blended until smooth (either with a food processor, blender, or immersion blender)
- ¼ cup good olive oil (it is okay to use good olive oil here because the sauce never goes beyond a mild simmer)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Red pepper flakes- to taste (1/2 tea-1 tea)
- 1 pound spaghetti or thin spaghetti
- 4-5 oz chunk of Parmeggiano Reggiano, freshly grated
- Put the water onto boil and while boiling simmer the garlic together with the red pepper flakes in a small sauce pot over medium-low to low heat.
- Simmer the garlic and pepper flakes for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic (you want the garlic to cook for a few minutes, until it “releases its scent” and is no longer bitter).
- Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. You don’t want to over-do the salt because the Parmesan is naturally salty, you will want a lot of Parmesan on your pasta! Let sauce continue to gently simmer until the pasta is done.
- Throw the pasta in when the water boils and when the pasta is done, the sauce is done! Drain the pasta, mix together, and serve with a ton of fresh Parmesan cheese.