Spaghetti, aglio e olio, or spaghetti with garlic and oil, is one of the most famous pasta dishes in Italy and all over the world; it’s fast, easy, and very Italian. Ready in a few minutes, it provides you with a good lunch or dinner with just four ingredients: pasta, oil, garlic, and chili pepper.
Are you up for making it? It is really quite simple. Follow my method and you will prepare a delicious dish your friends won’t forget. You will have a tempting spaghettata, or midnight spaghetti, to share with your friends.
In the very beginning, it was only made of pasta, oil, and garlic. It belonged to the popular food tradition from Rome, but a lot of mid-southern regions, such as Lazio, Abruzzo, Campania, and Calabria got involved and now claim its paternity.
I will offer you the hot version, which developed from a very ancient dish and which made Italian culinary history with its simplicity. You may encounter several different versions; mine is the “white” one, but you can also make it red with fresh tomato pieces, tomato sauce, or peeled plum tomatoes, oil, garlic, and hot chili pepper. Either version calls for long pasta such as spaghetti, linguine, or bucatini.
This is a typical recipe that you can prepare in a few minutes when your friends show up: it’s easy to cook and always turns into a great success no matter what. It’s so scrumptious that all your friends will have a second helping. I guarantee that.
What goes into this recipe?
- Spaghetti or any other long dry pasta (no fresh): spaghettini, spaghetti, vermicelli, linguine, bucatini. The diameter is the only difference among these different kinds of pasta; choose one with quite a large diameter;
- Top-quality extra virgin olive oil is called for; look for one with a low-acidity level;
- Garlic: the most common type is the white one, which has a long shelf life and a strong flavor and scent; big cloves can be peeled more easily;
- Red chili pepper: I usually recommend fresh chilis and ones that are not too hot. In the US, Anaheim or Ancho peppers (Scovile rating: 1,000- 2,0000) would work fine. Just remember when cutting into them that the liquid and seeds are what make them hot, so don’t rub your eyes. In fact, use disposable surgical gloves when cutting them, or secure it with a fork while cutting it up.
- Parsley makes the dish fresher; finely chop it and garnish your pasta just before serving it;
- Tomato is an extra ingredient which can be added to make the dish red.
You may encounter a wide variety of recipes which are quite different than the authentic Italian one; they will be scrumptious but won’t be the same as the original spaghetti, aglio e olio.
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
- 1/2 lb of long pasta
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tsp of red pepper flakes or 1 fresh red chili pepper
- Parsley (to taste) at your taste
- Peel the garlic cloves; cut them into 2 or 3, pieces, crush them, or chop them into smaller pieces;
- Sauté the garlic with 3 tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven or cast iron frying pan until golden over medium heat.
- Cut the hot chili pepper into halves, remove the seeds and add it to the pan;
- Remove the garlic, if you have sliced it, and set it aside. You can also leave the garlic in the pan if you like a strong taste ;
- Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling water until al dente or chewy. Drain it and reserve a cup of the pasta cooking liquid;
- Pour the pasta into the skillet and stir constantly; add some pasta cooking liquid: 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.
- 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 cold oil for a little while; then remove it and heat only the oil with the chili pepper;
- Another milder version is the raw one: cut the garlic cloves in half and rub them on the bottom of the serving bowl (do not squeeze them; otherwise the flavor will be too strong). Pour the pasta into the bowl and season with oil and top with freshly chopped chili pepper and parsley;
- One of the most appreciated variations of spaghetti, aglio e olio calls for toasted breadcrumbs or grated Parmigiano. Both of these ingredients make the pasta crunchier.
- A final suggestion: Add some lemon zest for a lighter flavor profile.