Stanley Tucci Tried This No-Boil Pasta Dish for the First Time — We Had to Try It Too

If you like your pasta with a little crunch, then this technique straight from Puglia is for you.

Stanley Tucci
Photo: Getty Images/Allrecipes

Stanley Tucci has our dream job: traveling around Italy, meeting new people, and trying all the delicious foods the regions have to offer. Even though he has tasted dozens of different pasta dishes throughout the two seasons of "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy," he's still being introduced to recipes and techniques he's never seen before.

Like the Assassin's Spaghetti (or Spaghetti all'Assassina) he tried in Bari, the capital of Puglia, on a recent episode where Tucci visited the southeast region that forms Italy's "boot." Though this dish was new to Tucci, Spaghetti all'Assassina has been infamous in the area for decades.

Chef Celso Laforgia showed Tucci what is so special about Assassin's Spaghetti: he doesn't boil it. Instead, he places the raw dried pasta directly in a pan with olive oil, crushed red pepper (and lots of it), and garlic.

He doesn't add any liquid until much later after the pasta starts to burn and stick to the pan. Then, he slowly adds ladlefuls of tomato sauce and boiling water. The pasta continues to get charred, while also softening and cooking at the same time.

"The trick is to burn it enough to make it crunchy, but not so much that it's bitter," Tucci explains. "I've honestly never seen anything like that before."

Laforgia says the key to this recipe is a powerful fire and a big pot — so you have enough room for the pasta to evenly layer on the surface. While the method is certainly special, the other interesting thing about this pasta is that it's made with three full tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes — and that's the minimum amount.

It's actually called "Assassin's" spaghetti because "the ones that tried it for the first time called the chef a killer because it was so spicy and burning," says Laforgia.

During the episode, Tucci does ask Laforgia to tone down the spice. However, Laforgia's recipe suggests you use at least three tablespoons of red pepper flakes "to balance the flavors" — but you can use as many as five tablespoons.

We Tried Bari's Assassin's Spaghetti

Stanley Tucci Assassin's Pasta
Bailey Fink

Tucci was so impressed with Laforgia's Assassin's Spaghetti, that I knew I had to try it for myself. But, let's just say, this recipe isn't for the faint of heart.

If you don't like spicy foods, you might want to pass on this recipe, or dial the red pepper flakes back a lot, because it's an incredibly spicy dish.

However, if you can get past the spiciness, the technique itself is fairly simple, even somewhat reminiscent of making risotto. You do need quite a large frying pan because if the pasta isn't in an even layer, it won't crisp up correctly. The spaghetti is meant to stick to the bottom of the pan, but if all your pasta is piled on top of each other, it won't have the desired effect.

If you like your pasta to have a little crunch, then you'll certainly love this spaghetti. Truthfully, you could use this method for other spaghetti dishes too with different sauces or add-ins.

In the end, it might be a little more time-consuming than just boiling pasta and topping it with sauce, but it's not meant to be regular spaghetti. It's a different experience than traditional spaghetti with tomato sauce and that's really why I liked it. Give it a try, it might just be your new favorite way to cook spaghetti.

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