Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil) is one of the simplest, yet fulfilling meals any Italian can make. The cooking time is little more than the time it takes to boil your dried spaghetti and can be a base recipe for adding ingredients from leftovers. Even the most basic Italian pantries should have a box of spaghetti, extra virgin olive oil and garlic...
- 1 lb spaghetti (optional: fettuccine, bucatini)
- 6 garlic cloves, skins removed
- EVO - extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Peperoncino (red pepper flakes - omit if you don't want heat)
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley (adds color & sweetness, but optional)
- Fresh ground Pecorino Romano (also, aged cacciocavallo or Parmigiano Reggiano)
- Fill your pasta pot with water, add a handful of sea salt and bring to a rapid boil.
- Add your spaghetti into the pot, fanning it out around the edge of the pot. Gently push the pasta into the water as it softens and bends, then give a couple of swirls to make sure all the strands are separated. Boil the pasta, partially covered (place a long wooden spoon under one side of the lid to prevent over-boiling) until the pasta is al dente.
- Meanwhile, remove the paper skins from the garlic and cut into thin slices. Do not mince or use a garlic press (which would make their taste too hot). You want a garlicky, sweet taste.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of EVO on a medium-low heat in a saute pan. Add the garlic and peperoncino, then heat slowly until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it well (reserve some of the pasta water).
- Place the saute pan back on a medium heat, then add the pasta, parsley and a handful of pecorino Romano to the saute pan, tossing or mixing using a pair of tongs. (Adding a tablespoon or two of pasta water while tossing will help bind the sauce to the pasta.)
- Salt and pepper to taste and serve. Top with grated or shaved pieces of Pecorino Romano.
Serve with slices of crusty bread and some Chianti for a simple and tasteful meal.
This recipe is certainly a classic from Naples, but you can think of it as a base recipe for adding other ingredients: halved cherry tomatoes, diced prosciutto, capers, olives, etc. Don't ever hesitate to be creative with Italian recipes!