I never knew that a pasta recipe that is so ridiculously simple could ever taste so good. If you want to make a stress free dinner, then you should definitely try this Aglio e Olio recipe.
I think this dish proves that pasta should never be complicated and filled with a crap tone of ingredients. A few ingredients cooked well goes a long way. Let’s start with the pasta, shall we?
Al dente pasta:
Many packets will instruct you to cook the spaghetti for about 10-12 minutes. I say cook it for 8 minutes. Remember, you still need to toss it in the pan with the chilli and garlic, and the heat from that pan will continue to cook the pasta.
Draining the pasta a bit early will give you a result of al dente. Boiling it for 10-12 minutes is likely not to. And in case you didn’t know, biting into an al dente piece of pasta should feel cooked, yet should still have some resistance in the middle.
Something you should always keep in mind is that garlic can burn easily, and you certainly don’t want bits of burnt garlic in your pasta right? This is why it’s important to fry the garlic lightly and to keep an eye on the colour. The colour of the garlic should be a nice light brown colour. If the garlic starts going dark, you’ve gone too far.
So how can so few ingredients work so effectively? Firstly, don’t be shy on the garlic, because 1 or 2 garlic cloves just won’t cut it in this recipe. And the important thing to understand is that the garlic and chilli give a great base of flavour. However, the idea isn’t just to add garlic and chilli, it’s about using that garlic and chilli to flavour the oil. That oil will then coat the pasta.
This is why you shouldn’t be afraid of the oil too. You don’t want to drench the pasta in olive oil, but you do want is to have every bit of pasta coated in that garlic and chilli fragrance. So a little drizzle of olive oil will not acheive that.
What else can I add to this recipe?
Yes, I know, this recipe had very few ingredients but remember, that is what makes it so awesome. I recommend that you try tasting this Aglio e Olio without adding anything first, see what you think, then decide on whether you want to add anything else. Here are a few different ways to amplify the dish:
- Adding prawns that are peeled and pan fried.
- Finely chopped up bacon that has been pan-fried until crispy.
- Make it extra herby by adding more soft herbs such as basil, oregano, marjoram etc.
- Frying the garlic and chilli flakes with a bit of finely chopped shallots can give a nice sweetness.
Overall, you don’t want to add anything too heavy or chunky. Keep it light because less is more.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Aglio e Olio is ridiculously simple yet ridiculously tasty! When you make this once, you'll want to make it again.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio:
- 300 g spaghetti
- 5 tablespoons of olive oil plus a bit extra for oiling the pasta
- 6 cloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 35 g Parmesan
- ½ a lemon juiced
- black cracked pepper optional
- 1 bug bunch of parsley
- 30 g of rocket
- ½ a lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio:
- Add 4L of water to a pot, then season the water with 2½ teaspoons of salt. Bring the water to a boil.
- Add the spaghetti and cook for 8 minutes stirring occasionally. When the pasta is almost ready to drain, use a cup to scoop out some of the pasta water. Drain the pasta into a colander. Then, add a swig of olive oil just to prevent the pasta from sticking too much.
- Put a large frying pan over low - medium heat (make sure the pan isn't too hot).
Add your olive oil, then add your garlic. Once the garlic starts to fry, add your chilli flakes. As soon as you see the garlic developing a nice golden colour, add your pasta, your Parmesan cheese, your lemon juice, your black cracked pepper and pour in a splash of your pasta water just to make sure that the pasta doesn't stick and so it's nice and silky.
- Toss/stir the the pasta in the pan until the mixture is well combined and the pasta is well coated in all of that flavour.
- Turn the heat off, taste the pasta to see if it needs any more seasoning, then add your chopped parsley and stir through.
- Put the rocket, a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a small pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together until will combined.
- Serve the pasta and top it with your dressed rocket.
- You don't have to use spaghetti, you can use whatever pasta you like. Just remember to cook the pasta 1-2 minutes earlier than what the packet instructions tell you.