Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
I personally have always felt like making lunch or dinner is quite a hurdle. Unless you plan on being home all day, you either have to prep the recipes or buy fresh ingredients ahead of time. I was in the mood of something tasty but it does not have to be complicated or time consuming. Therefore, I decided to whip up this easy Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, pasta in garlic and oil sauce, using minimal ingredients in just 20 minutes.
I think Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is simple, understated, and delicious. The main ingredients that go into this recipe are spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and parsley, and do not leave a generous helping of parmesan cheese on top. Although it only takes a couple of basic ingredients from the pantry, it still requires some basic methods to be done right. When it is cooked correctly, the dish should result in a perfectly scented but not overpowering extra virgin oil-infused garlic, wrapped around al dente pasta and complimented with the salty bite of parmesan and fresh parsley.
Tips on Making Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
1. Get good quality ingredients
Because it only needs a few ingredients, it is important to choose the finest ingredients that really shine. I recommend to use extra virgin olive oil which has stronger olive taste and has a lower level of oleic acid than other olive oil varieties.
2. Salt your pasta water
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook until less than al dente. Be generous with your salt because that is the only salt that will be added to the dish, since salt does not dissolve well in the olive oil sauce.
3. Do not overcook the garlic
You do not want to end up with burnt bitter garlic in your dish. Add olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic just begins to turn light golden-brown, for about 2-3 minutes. You will know the olive oil has infused the garlic flavor when you can smell the cooked garlic in your kitchen.
4. Add pasta water to the infused olive oil
Reserve some pasta water before draining the cooked pasta. The starchy pasta water helps to emulsify the olive oil coating into creamy sauce with less oily texture. The water adds a bit of richness and flavor, and the starchiness can help bringing a split sauce back together. Taste and if the sauce is still too oily, you can add a little more pasta water.
5. Do not rinse the pasta
Do not rinse the cooked pasta. The starch helps the sauce’s ability to cling to the pasta. It also washes away some of the pasta’s wonderful flavor.
6. Try adding extra ingredients
Feel free to add some meat or vegetables into your sauce. Add some prawns or mushrooms into the frying garlic until it is cooked enough before adding the pasta.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- 1/2 pound dry spaghetti (225 gr)
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese plus extra for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain well. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is golden, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer pasta to skillet along with 1/2 cup pasta water, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring and tossing rapidly until the sauce coats the pasta. Add remaining water, 1 tbsp at a time if needed until desired consistency is reached.
Remove from heat, stir in parsley and parmesan cheese if desired. Serve immediately.