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Scotty’s Snacks: How to cook spaghetti

If you’re anything like me, you’re a horrible, despicable, rotten and uncaring person whose first response upon learning about the state mandated stay-at-home order was to do a happy little jig because it meant that you would get to stay inside. However, as unforgivingly selfish and close-minded such a gleeful response is to a global health crisis, it is understandable, is it not? 

Admit it; while incurable deadly diseases are the pits, staying inside and doing nothing all day is the bee’s knees.


That is, if you’re someone who’s good at finding ways to keep yourself busy and productive in your alone time, which, up until March 22 of this year, I thought I was.

I am a writer, after all. So I always figured that when I have alone time, rather than watching Netflix or playing Angry Birds like some illiterate, non-writerly commoner, my transcendentally artistic self would spend it writing a brilliant story or knocking a few classic works of literature off my reading list or doing some other very interesting, respectable and high-brow activity of the like.

I have always been a fairly good cook. Not to toot my own horn or anything. I don’t mean that in an egomaniacal way; I just mean that I make Julia Child look like your elementary school lunch lady.”

However, these past few weeks have taught me that, beyond not being a person who spends alone time scribbling down the next great American novel, I’m not even sophisticated enough to commit to watching Netflix.

I tried watching “Stranger Things,” got bored 10 minutes into the first episode and turned it off. Instead, I’ve spent the past three weeks standing around my kitchen eating almonds and staring at food in my pantry. That’s about it. 

In fact, I literally, just now, this second, took a break from writing this article to go grab myself a handful of almonds from the kitchen, stopping on my way back to stare at a box of Honey Bunches of Oats for about 10 minutes.

Why these are my pastimes of choice, I haven’t the slightest clue. It’s an unexplained psychological phenomenon, like furry culture or cuticle fetishes. Whatever it is, though, the minutes of my life that I have wasted over the course of these past few weeks just standing around shoveling nuts into my face while I gawk dumbly at a jar of peanut butter are, quite frankly, embarrassing.

So, the other day, while ogling a bag of whole wheat flour, I figured it was time to make a change.

A plate of spaghetti sits on a table. (Photo illustration by Skyler Pradhan | The Collegian)

Seeing as I was spending all my time around food anyway, I thought it made the most sense for me to take up cooking. I have always been a fairly good cook. Not to toot my own horn or anything. I don’t mean that in an egomaniacal way; I just mean that I make Julia Child look like your elementary school lunch lady.

And with the restaurants around town closing and people looking for things to do around the house now that we’re all stuck inside for the foreseeable future, I figured now would be a prime opportunity for me to pass my glorious cooking expertise, which I have attained through years of intensely studying Pixar’s 2007 classic “Ratatouille,” onto you, our dear readers.


So, if you’re looking for a nice, easy meal to cook while you aren’t eating almonds and staring at bags of popcorn, here’s a simple spaghetti recipe to try out.


  • 1 package whole grain spaghetti. You don’t have to use whole grain; it’s perfectly acceptable to use regular pasta. However, I will say that when cooking for one’s self, it’s far more satisfying when the final product is aesthetically pleasing. And spaghetti looks much, much prettier and more rustic when it looks as if it was just dug up from a pile of dirt.
  • 1 can (or jar) spaghetti sauce of your choice. You can also try making your own spaghetti sauce with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onions and fresh garlic, but this causes people to think you’re pretentious or trying to show off somehow. It’s best to simply stick with the store-bought kind. You’re cooking your own spaghetti after all. There’s no need to show us all up by making your own sauce too.
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, unless you’re allergic to dairy, in which case I would strongly recommend omitting this ingredient. In less tumultuous times, I would say go ahead and add it in, as playing EpiPen chicken can be a fun and stimulating way to pass time while you’re bored. However, given the current situation and the over-crowdedness of the American health care system, this probably wouldn’t be the best idea at the moment. Also, for legal reasons, I am required to clarify that I do not actually endorse playing EpiPen chicken at any time, during a pandemic or not.
  • Something meaty. Whether it be the traditional meatballs, some sliced up chicken breasts or any number of the gelatinous, plant-mash vegetarian alternatives first-world science has developed for the glorious gift that is meat, all spaghetti needs to include some kind of protein. Otherwise, you have nothing to keep the noodles in place when you twirl them around your fork, and you have to eat them untwirled so that they hang from your mouth and make you look like Cthulhu.
  • Olives. In all honesty, you don’t have to add olives to your spaghetti, and I mainly just include them on the ingredients list for the sake of vanity so as to make the recipe seem more like “my own.” However, if I’m being completely honest, everyone I’ve ever known has told me that olives make spaghetti taste like dish detergent, so if you decide to skip this ingredient, I don’t blame you. Although I will be hurt.


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti noodles and let cook about 5 minutes. Or 10. Or 15 if your stove is extra finicky.
  2. In a skillet, prepare your meaty ingredient. I’ll leave this step to you, seeing as it’s your meaty ingredient. If you don’t know how to prepare a meaty ingredient from scratch, no worries! There are plenty of frozen meaty ingredients that you can buy precooked at the grocery store and heat up in a microwave.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the spaghetti sauce. If need be, this can also be prepared in the microwave.
  4. Drain the spaghetti. Pour sauce over the top, and mix in the Parmesan cheese, meaty ingredient and olives, unless you’re one of the people who’s allergic to dairy, in which case don’t add the Parmesan cheese. If you want to drive a metaphorical stake through my heart by omitting the one ingredient that makes this recipe so unique and special to me, don’t add the olives either. If you’d like, you could also just skip this step entirely and top each separate serving of spaghetti with the necessary ingredients. But then this recipe would only have three actual steps, which would just be sad.
  5. Serve and enjoy. Unless you included the olives, in which case, serve, grin and bear it.

Scotty Powell can be reached at or on Twitter @scottysseus.

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