Pasta with garlic and olive oil, or pasta aglio e olio as they say in Italian, is a classic and simple Italian pasta dish. Since it only takes about 20 minute to make, it's our go to quick weeknight meal.
If you're in a time crunch, low on groceries, or simply craving some comfort food make this dish. We like to think of it as an easier (and healthier) Italian version of an American classic, Mac and Cheese.
What is Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil
As we said before, pasta with garlic and olive oil is an authentic Italian dish. Traditionally, it only has two ingredients in the sauce, garlic and olive oil.
However, we also like to add some parmigiano reggiano and parsley or anchovies and parsley. In addition, we usually throw in some spicy peppers for good measure! Afterall, Giuseppe is from Calabria so we always need a little spice.
A fun fact, this dish is also quite popular amongst Italian children, especially those that are picky eaters because it has no tomato sauce and just a white sauce. If you have a picky eater in your family maybe they'll love this!
This recipe for pasta with garlic and olive oil is perfectly garlicky, oily (in a good way), and cheesy! But remember, if you choose to add anchovies do not add any cheese. For the most part, in Italian recipes cheese and seafood are not mixed together.
How to Make Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil
The most important part of this recipe is to prep all of your ingredients mise en place. This version of pasta with garlic and olive oil requires a handful of ingredients that you need to add to the pan in quick succession. So make sure to have everything set out ahead of time.
If you leave any chopping until the last minute you run the risk of burning the garlic and you'll have to start all over again. Also make sure to have your utensils and strainer out ahead of time.
Use a High Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The foundation for pasta with garlic and olive oil is olive oil. Therefore, it's super important to use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. The fat will act as the vehicle in which the flavors of garlic, anchovies, and spicy pepper are delivered.
Using a high quality extra virgin olive oil will add depth, layers, and richness to this dish that cannot be replicated by other cooking fats. So don't be light-handed with the oil and definitely don't be afraid to use the good stuff because that's where the flavors are!
Related: Regular vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
How to Prep the Garlic
For pasta with garlic and olive oil it's best to roughly chop the garlic into chunks or simply smash the clove. Do not chop the garlic finely or it will burn.
The base of this dish is high-quality extra virgin olive oil scented with garlic. By gently boiling the garlic in the oil you are infusing notes of garlic into every single bite.
The flavors will disperse evenly without being overpowering or bitter. The garlic should have a blonde color and be very shiny when it's done boiling in the oil.
Be sure to raise and lower the pan from the heat as needed and completely remove the pan from heat shortly before the garlic is done in order to slow the cooking process.
If you're nervous about burning the garlic, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan. You can choose to remove the garlic entirely or add it back in the sauce once the oil has cooled.
If the garlic does burn you'll have to start over as the oil is unsalvageable and burnt garlic has a very undesirable flavor. As a rule of thumb, never leave a stovetop unattended while starting any pasta sauces that involve olive oil and garlic.
How to Prep the Parsley
If you have a bunch of parsley and aren't a fan of the stems now is their time to shine! About 30s before you cut the heat from the garlic add the parsley stems and watch them sizzle away.
Once you cut the heat you can remove the stems then add the parsley leaves. Parsley in this dish is a must! It adds a freshness that cannot be beaten and the color is so pretty.
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If you make pasta aglio e olio, please leave a comment and give this recipe a rating! We love to hear from you. And if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and Facebook and use #EXAUoliveoil so we can repost!