A debate about pasta is slowly coming to a boil in the foodie world (sorry, we can never resist a pun). On Tuesday, Serious Eats launched their new video series “Mario Unclogged” (hee!) starring none other than Mario Batali. Batali’s inaugural video topic? How to sauce pasta. Batali asserts that Americans put too much sauce on their overcooked pasta, turning it into a veritable soup! The very next day, Mark Bittman, the self-proclaimed minimalist, published a piece in the New York Times alleging the very opposite: that health-conscious eaters should create pasta dishes with twice as much sauce as pasta. Now. We have infinite respect for both Batali and Bittman. We don’t have quite enough money for his big ticket restaurants, but we’ve had some of our favorite meals at Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria and we’ll always watch a rerun of Molto Mario. Meanwhile, How to Cook Everything is one of our most frequently used cookbooks. Who should we trust on this vital matter?
As it turns out, we may not need to choose. It seems to us that Bittman is not necessarily advocating saucing all (or even most!) pasta dishes this way. Rather, he seems to be advocating for a new type of dish: one that involves pasta, but functions more as a showcase for vegetables than anything else. The butternut squash and tomato dish he demonstrates in his video, for example, seems more like a vegetable dish than a traditional pasta. We’re generally interested in making our food healthier, so that’s definitely something we might try next time we’re making a veggie-heavy pasta dish. On the other hand, when we’re making a pasta meal with a less healthful sauce or one with great fresh pasta, we’re definitely going to follow the Batali principle. After all, your spaghetti carbonara really doesn’t need to be swimming in eggy, porky goodness.
Below, Batali’s video, just because he’s hilarious and we can never quite get enough of him.