“Spaghetti ajo e ojo” is one of the most famous pasta dishes in Italy and all over the world: fast, easy, genuinely Italian. Ready in a few minutes, it provides you with a good lunch or dinner with only four ingredients: pasta, oil, garlic, and hot chili pepper.
Do you fancy trying it? It is kids’s game. Follow my method and you will prepare a toothsome dish your friends won’t forget. Yes, because this pasta is something to share with your friends: a tempting “spaghettata” to enjoy a little time together.
At the very beginning it was made of just, pasta oil and garlic-it belongs to the popular food tradition from Roma, but a lot of Regions in the Centre-South Italy, Lazio, Abruzzo, Campania and Calabria claim its paternity. I will tell you about the hot version, the development of a very ancient dish, which made the culinary history of Italy with its simplicity.
You may encounter several versions: mine is the white one, but you can also make it ‘red’ with fresh tomato dices, tomato purée or peeled plum tomatoes, oil, garlic and hot chili pepper.
Anyway, both versions do want only long pasta shapes such as spaghetti, linguine, or i vermicelli.
It is the typical recipe you can cook in a few minutes when your friends show up: it’s something easy to cook which always turns into a great success! It so scrumptious that all your friends will have a second helping, believe me!
Well, if you don’t like hot chili pepper, garlic, or strong tastes, this recipe doesn’t fit it but you may reach a compromise. For instance, you can flavor the oil with the chili pepper instead of putting it directly into pasta. The taste will be more delicate but still appetizing.
What goes in spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili pepper and what doesn’t go
Very simple ingredients:
- Spaghetti or long dry pasta (no fresh): every long shape is perfectly paired with this seasoning-spaghettini, spaghetti, vermicelli, linguine, bucatini. The diameters is the only difference among these kinds of pasta; opt for a quite large diameter to enjoy this dish fully- a thin diameter will not enhance it;
- Only good quality extra virgin olive oil with delicate fruity scents-carefully read the the package instructions and look for a low acidity level;
- Garlic: the most common type is the white one. It has got a long shelf-life, powerful flavor and scent; whereas purple garlic has got a milder taste and odor. Red garlic is characterized by a strong, spicy taste which tents to be chili as well. Choose the one you like the best. A piece of advice: big cloves can be peeled more easily;
- Red hot chili pepper: I usually recommend fresh ones, not too hot. The nutritional facts on the packages usually state the how chili the red pepper is. If you buy fresh ones, they must be bright red, shiny, compact and intact, without any dark spots. Watch out: you will have to break it with our hands, so please do not touch your face, your lips, or your eyes while cooking, otherwise you will get an annoying inflammation. Capsaicin is very volatile and it may provoke intense tearing;
- Parsley makes the dish fresher; finely chop it and garnish your pasta just before serving it;
- Tomato is an extra ingredient which is added to make the dish “red”.
You may encounter a wide selection of international recipes which are quite different from the genuine Italian one, they will be scrumptious, but it won’t be the same as the original “spaghetti aglio e olio”.
Anchovies, cream, Parmigiano, or mascarpone cheese are definitely not ingredients of an ancient recipe which has successfully stood up to numberless variations.
Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili pepper
- 170 gr long pasta (whole grain), spaghetti or linguine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tsp
dry red chili pepper or 1 fresh red chili pepper
- Parsley at your taste
- Peel the garlic cloves and discard the sprouts; you may use the whole cloves, or cut them into 2 or 3, or even crush or chop them to your taste;
- Sauté the garlic with 3 tbsp of oil in large high-sided skillet until golden (it mustn’t get burnt) over medium heat.
- Cut the hot chili pepper into halves, remove the seeds, break it with your hands and add to the skillet;
- Remove the garlic, if you have sliced it, and set aside;
- Cook spaghetti in plenty of boiling water until al dente. Drain it and reserve a cup of its water.
- Pour the pasta into the skillet; cook stirring constantly;
- Add some cooking water: the starch will make the sauce creamy and it will evenly coat your spaghetti;
- Sauté over high heat for a few minutes;
- Garnish with chopped parsley and the garlic you have set aside. Serve hot!
More delicate variations:
- If you like a less hot sauce, remove the chili pepper from the oil before adding the garlic;
- If you do not like the taste of garlic very much, crush the garlic and let it stand in the cold oil for a little time; then remove it and heat only the oil with the chili pepper;
- Another milder version is the raw one: cut the garlic cloves into halves and rub them onto the bottom of the serving bowl (do not squeeze otherwise the taste will get too strong). Pour the pasta into the bowl and season with oil, top with freshly chopped chili pepper and parsley;
- One of the most appreciated variation of the spaghetti aglio e olio, wants toasted breadcrumbs, or grated parmigiano cheese. Both the ingredients make pasta crunchier.
- And why don’t you add some lemon zest for a fresher taste?