It was the mise en place for one of my favourite pasta dish that inspired me to write this recipe.
Calling it a recipe may stretch your understanding of that form, let's call it a recipe in the style of celebrated cookbook author, Elizabeth David. It's loose, non-specific, more a collection of ingredients that come together. The ingredient list is in the header photo.
Before beginning let the ingredients sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Adding cold ingredients to hot pasta will cool the finished dish. Besides, Parmesan is easier to grate at room temperature.
Prepare you mis en place according to the photo.
Put a large pot of liberally salted water on to boil. There must be enough water that it comes almost immediately back to the boil once the pasta is added. The pasta must cook vigorously and is done when it is al dente, a texture that can only be determined by taste.
There is only one type of dry pasta worth cooking, and it is the brand in the photo. Expensive, yes, but so delicious that it will alter your understanding of how dry pasta should taste.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy cast-iron frying pan. There should be enough oil to coat the pasta when cooked. When the oil is hot, add the chopped garlic, anchovies, and chilli flakes and cook for a few minutes until soft and aromatic. Do not brown. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and continue to cook for a few minutes longer.
Just before draining the pasta, scoop out a small ladle of the starchy cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the fragrant oil mixture, the reserved starchy pasta water, Nicoise olives, ricotta cheese, parsley and parmesan. Toss together and season to taste.
Serves four hungry adults.