I remember this peasant dish as skordomakarona (garlic macaroni) or makaronia bloom (flooded macaroni) because it was somewhat soupy. My mother made it occasionally for dinner –our secondary meal. For lunch she often made the more elaborate Greek makaronada: a platter of macaroni –usually overcooked– topped with rich, cinnamon-scented tomato sauce, sprinkled with copious amounts of grated kefalotyri cheese and then drizzled with sizzling sheep’s milk butter that partly melted the cheese, creating the desirable cords… My father loved this makaronada and usually ate more than he should, then blamed my mother for his stomach ache; she should have removed the platter from the table after serving, so he couldn’t have helped himself again and again, he shouted. I don’t think we witnessed this recurring argument for any other family dish, and I remembered it yesterday, as I kept adding to my plate more and more One-Pot-Pasta.
Skordomakarona was a no-recipe dish: pasta –usually broken spaghetti– chopped or grated fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and water to cover, plus salt and pepper. Stirred several times while cooking and when the pasta was cooked it was served in soup plates because it had some broth. We usually ate it with feta cheese, a piece in the plate which we cut into pieces to eat with each spoonful of the pasta, that otherwise was quite bland.
I remembered my mother’s skordomakarona as I came across a very precise recipe for convenient One Pot pasta. It is a nine-minute affair that involves cooking together in a pot chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, pasta and some water. I tried the updated, Food 52 version of Martha Steward’s One Pan Pasta the other day and found it excellent! Of course I increased the amount of olive oil somewhat, added more garlic, and thyme instead of the basil, and I am so pleased with the results that think that from now on I will never make pasta any other way. I intend to create seasonal variations, for example with spinach or bitter wild greens, now that their season is coming; later I will add diced zucchini, probably. What makes my version quite different is the addition of crumbled feta at the end. I believe that the combination is ideal!
A few days after I tasted One Pot Pasta, my friend Annia Ciezadlo who was writing a story about the immigrants in Lesbos asked for my help as she was trying to translate the Pasta for a Crowd recipe a wonderful volunteer cooked for the refugees. It is flavored with a very interesting mixture of spices and Annia had tried it and loved it, she said. I have to take her word for it, since I won’t be able to ever cook this quantity – it is said to feed 1000 people— because even with help I no longer can stir or lift a pot this size…
Recipe: One-Pot Pasta