Recipe Review

The Pasta Queen’s “Assassin’s Spaghetti” Is So Good It Doesn’t Even Need Cheese

published May 6, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

Did you know that some of the best dishes were actually created by accident? Eggs Benedict, Caesar salad, and even chocolate chip cookies are all classic foods that are said to have been created out of necessity or sheer luck. The same goes for Pasta Queen’s Assassin’s Spaghetti

According to the Pasta Queen, this pasta dish was was born when a drunk cook in the south of Italy placed raw noodles directly in his skillet of crushed tomatoes. This cook was also said to have been distracted by a beautiful woman, which caused him to slightly char the noodles on the bottom because he wasn’t paying close attention. With such an unusual pasta-cooking method and a unique textural result, this dish was basically begging me to try it out.

Credit: Sara Tane

How to Make Assassin’s Spaghetti

The preparation of this pasta dish is quite similar to risotto. The TikTok video doesn’t offer specific measurements, so if you need a little bit more of a structured recipe, this is a similar version you can follow. The Pasta Queen also has some helpful tips in her IG stories for some added guidance. 

First, sauté minced garlic and chili flakes in a hot skillet with a generous guzzle of oil. Then pour in some tomato purée to get a simple sauce going. After that, lay down a handful of uncooked, dry spaghetti (don’t break them in half or every Italian grandmother will have it out for you).

In a separate pot, bring a heavily salted broth made with water and tomato paste to a simmer. Similar to risotto, you’ll then gradually ladle some of this broth into the skillet with the uncooked noodles. It’s important not to move the dry noodles around too much in the tomato sauce because you also want them to char slightly from making contact with the super-hot pan. Once the noodles have some browning on the bottom and they’re slightly softened from the hot broth, it’s time to twirl ‘em up and plate them.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review Assassin’s Spaghetti

Upon first seeing this recipe, I was immediately intrigued. Cooking pasta like risotto? You have my attention. In all honesty, I did have some doubts about a pasta recipe without cheese or butter, but I absolutely loved this dish. It was fun to make, it utilized cheap, humble ingredients, it came together fairly quickly, and it tasted freaking delicious. The texture of the pasta wasn’t too far off from a traditional pasta dish, but I really enjoyed the subtle crunch that came from lightly burning the undersides of the noodles.

I would say I’m probably guilty of trying to do too much when it comes to making a pasta dinner, so when I saw the short ingredient list for this recipe, I felt like it wouldn’t be enough. But it still hit all the notes. Could I toss in some anchovies and shallots to the aromatics? Sure. Would a sprinkling of Parm and some fresh parsley add an extra kick of cheesiness and freshness? Of course. Would a drizzle of cream or butter add an element of luxury? It most definitely would. Does this dish need any of these additions? Absolutely not. It was balanced and tasty exactly as written. Frankly, it was a good reminder that sometimes it’s better to make an edited dish than one with all the elements.

Credit: Sara Tane

3 Tips for Making Assassin’s Spaghetti

  1. Use a cast iron skillet. I used a nonstick skillet for the pasta, but if I were to make it again I’d probably switch to my well-seasoned cast iron skillet. One of the keys to this dish is getting your pan super hot so that you can slightly char the noodles. The best way to achieve even, deep browning is with cast iron, so even though I was still successful using a nonstick, I likely would have gotten better browning from a cast iron. (And contrary to the myth, you can cook tomatoes in cast iron so long as it’s for a short amount of time; it’s long-simmering you want to avoid.)
  2. Watch that garlic. My biggest fear when it comes to cooking is burning garlic. There are a lot of cooking blunders that can be easily remedied, but the moment you burn garlic is the moment you need to start over. When you’re sautéing the garlic and chili peppers, keep a close eye on the garlic and make sure it doesn’t burn. The moment you can smell it is the moment that you can add your tomato purée, which will prevent the garlic from burning.
  3. Avoid moving the spaghetti around too much. Like I mentioned, the goal here is to achieve some deep brown coloring on the bottom of the noodles. This will only happen if the noodles are left to sear in the hot pan. Once you start to see some color on the bottoms, you can move them around and start to check if the noodles are done cooking.

Have you made this before? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!