Hello, welcome to Djalali Cooks! Today is Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year, here in the northern hemisphere. When I lived in Alaska, this was my favorite time of year. With about 20 functional hours of daylight, and then only twilight after that, it was such an amazing thing to experience such long days. In fact, in Anchorage, all the days between June 8 and July 5 have 24 hours of daylight and what’s called civil twilight. Well, now I am here in Athens, Georgia and Summer Solstice today… is mostly cloudy. Despite the heat and humidity, it’s rainy and today feels like a pasta day; so let’s do it: Bucatini with Charred Scallions and Red Pepper!
This recipe is super light, but so rich and flavorful, and I think it’s perfect for summer. There is no butter, no cheese. No meat. We get a beautiful glossy sauce from the scallion oil and the pasta water. The original recipe from Food52 calls for spaghetti, but I opted for bucatini because I like its substantial chew. Go with spaghetti if you prefer!
Scallions, Scallions, Scallions!
Three bunches of scallions, each bunch cut in different sizes gives the flavor backbone to this dish. Wash and trim each bunch. Then, cut one bunch into 1.5-inch pieces; cut the second bunch into 1/2-inch pieces; and cut the third bunch into fine slices, then run your knife over the pile of thin slices a few more times.
Heat a dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pot. When the oil is shimmery, add the large scallion pieces. Season with a pinch of Kosher salt. Stir to coat and let cook about 3 minutes, until the scallions have a good amount of char.
Next, add the medium-sized scallions, sprinkle with another pinch of Kosher salt and stir to coat the scallions. Reduce the heat to medium and let cook, stirring occasionally until the medium-sized pieces are soft.
Now add the finely chopped scallions. Stir to combine with another pinch of Kosher salt and add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Give this all a good stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the crushed red pepper flakes, stir to combine and let sit while we get the pasta going.
Fill a pot with 7 cups of water and heat over high heat until boiling. Add a few pinches of Kosher salt and then add the 1/2 pound of bucatini. Set a timer for 9 minutes. We are using a lot less water than the package calls for so that the pasta cooking water will have a higher starch concentration. This will help thicken the sauce and give a silky texture.
At about minute 7, turn the heat to low under the scallion oil. When the pasta is just shy of al dente (about 9 minutes), place the two pots side-by-side and use tongs to transfer the pasta to the scallion oil.
When all the pasta is in with the scallion oil, scoop about 1/3 cup of the pasta water and pour it into the scallion/pasta pot. With the tongs in their closed position, vigorously stir the pasta/scallion oil/pasta water mixture until the liquid thickens a little and creates a silky-smooth coating on the pasta (about 2 minutes of continuous, vigorous stirring). Turn off the heat.
Plate it up!
Grab a big scoop of pasta with the tongs, and hold it over a shallow bowl; while slowly releasing the grip of the tongs, slowly turn the bowl clockwise under the pasta, to twirl the pasta onto the plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of finishing sea salt and another sprinkling of crushed red pepper. And that’s it!
Bucatini with Charred Scallions and Red Pepper
What can I say about this pasta? The sauce texture is so silky and rich, without being overpowering or creamy. Because we seasoned everything along the way, its flavor is more complex than you’d expect, without anything fancy. Just salt, red pepper flakes and the variety of scallion flavors: the sweet, charred scallions, the lightly cooked, softened scallions and the fresh bite of the finely chopped scallions. I suppose this recipe is a bit of a love letter to this all-purpose allium.
Thanks so much for spending some of this Summer Solstice with me! Give this super-easy, yet super-elegant pasta dish a try, and if you want another recipe for bucatini, try Bucatini all’Amatriciana, it’s pretty much perfect! Remember, you can follow me over on Instagram and facebook. Thanks so much everyone, take care and be well. xo Kelly
Bucatini with Charred Scallions and Red Pepper
A love letter to this all-purpose allium, Bucatini with Charred Scallions and Red Pepper is so simple, yet its flavors are complex and rich.
- 7 cups Water
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Kosher Salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 pound Bucatini, or Spaghetti
- 5 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided
- 3 Bunches Scallions, washed and trimmed
- 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes, plus more for garnish
- Flaky Finishing Sea Salt, for garnish
Keep each scallion bunch separate.
Chop one bunch of scallions into roughly 1 ½–inch pieces.
Chop another into ½-inch pieces.
Finely slice then mince the remaining bunch.
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it’s very hot, add 1 tablespoon oil.
When the oil is shimmery, add the large-sized scallion pieces. Toss a few times and sprinkle with salt. Leave pieces to cook for 3 minutes, until they begin to char.
Add the medium-sized scallion pieces to the pan. Stir and season with another pinch of salt. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring a few times, until soft.
Add the minced scallions to the pan. Stir and season with another pinch of salt. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, then add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then turn off the heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes.
Bring a separate pot with the 7 cups of water to boil.
Add a few pinches of Kosher salt and add the bucatini. After a moment, gently nudge it down with a wooden spoon as needed, until all the noodles are submerged. Set a timer for 9 minutes and boil noodles, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until just al dente.
At minute 7 of the pasta's cooking time, turn on the heat under the scallion sauce to the lowest setting and give the scallion oil a stir.
Use tongs to transfer the bucatini to the pot with the scallions and oil.
Add 1/3 cup pasta water and continuously and vigorously stir the pasta to form an emulsified sauce (about 2 minutes).
Incrementally add more water, if necessary.
Turn off the heat and plate the bucatini. Top with more red pepper flakes and flaky sea salt.