Pasta Aglio e Olio
Pasta Aglio e Olio is a typical Italian ‘simple’ dish made with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, and optional peperoncino and anchovies. We eat this regularly at home and like to think of it as an easier (and healthier) ‘Mac and Cheese’. Pasta Aglio e Olio brings back that nostalgia of being a kid. It’s the perfect dish to make if you’re on a time crunch, low on groceries, or simply craving some comfort food.
Pasta Aglio e Olio is salty, oily (in the good way), and can be elevated with either peperoncini (spicy peppers) or anchovies. If you choose to add anchovies there’s no need to add cheese. Remember in Italian cooking fish and cheese usually don’t go together.
Using a high quality olive oil is extremely important because the oil is the backbone to this dish and the vehicle in which the flavors of garlic/anchovies/peperoncini are delivered. Don’t be light handed with the EVOO and definitely don’t be afraid to use the good stuff because that’s where the flavors are!
Serves 4 people
- 2 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 8-10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 350 grams (0.75lb) spaghetti
- 6 medium cloves garlic
- 6 sprigs parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (optional)
- 1 medium calabrian pepper (or other spicy pepper) (optional)
- 1 anchovies (optional: do not add cheese if using anchovies)
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
Pasta Aglio e Olio Recipe
- Fill a medium large pot with water, add salt. Bring to a boil.
- Preheat medium large saute pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, wait 30s then add breadcrumbs. Spread breadcrumbs out evenly and toast until brown and slightly crunchy. Remove from heat, place breadcrumbs in a bowl, and set aside.
- Finely grate parmigiano reggiano.
- Smash garlic gloves with side of knife or chop each clove into 2-3 large pieces (do not chop fine it will burn), finely chop parsley.
- Preheat saute pan on medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, parsley (and optional peppers/achovies). Cook for 2-3 minutes, until garlic has ‘scented’ olive oil and develops a warm buttery yellow color. Remove from heat immediately. Tip: Tilt the pan down to ‘boil’ the garlic and oil over direct heat. If your oil smokes or garlic starts to burn turn heat to medium low or low. Everyones cooktop is different, practice makes perfect.
- Add pasta to water, stirring every 2 minutes. Cook pasta 2-3 minutes before ‘al dente’ (see package for cooking time).
- Remove 1-2 cup of pasta water BEFORE straining pasta. This will be used in the pasta sauce.
- Turn pan with garlic and parsley on medium heat. Strain pasta, and add to medium saucepan. Turn heat up to high and stir.
- Add 1/4 cup of remaining pasta water to pasta. Gently stir continuously. 1 minute later add another 1/4 cup of pasta water if pasta gets dry. Water should continuously evaporate as you’re stirring. Add more water if pasta sauce is evaporating quickly.
- Cook pasta and sauce for max. 3 minutes.
- Turn off heat and add parmigiano reggiano. Stir well.
- Serve immediately. Top with toast bread crumbs and fresh parsley if desired.
There are few things that taste as good as Pasta Aglio e Olio. Please share your thoughts on this recipe in the comments section below. Enjoy!