Pasta aglio e olio is one of the most delicious Italian pasta dishes ever. You simmer garlic and peperoncino in olive oil to make it, add al dente spaghetti, vermicelli, or capellini, and lots of fresh parsley to create one of the simplest yet flavorful pasta dishes.
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What is pasta aglio e olio
Aglio e olio is the most delicious summer dish: pasta with garlic and olive oil. When they say aglio, olio e peperoncino, you also add red pepper flakes to the oil, and simmer them with the garlic.
The origins of this tasteful dish can be traced in Napoli (Naples), in the Campania Region, in Southern Italy. Thus, this is a classic Neapolitan, top-rated recipe, and for me, it’s a clear expression of the Italian cucina povera.
What is cucina povera
Cucina povera refers to poor cooking: when you take advantage of what you have handy, even the most humble ingredients, and waste nothing. For example, bruschettas and panzanella are two of the most beloved cucina povera recipes. In both of them, you recycle stale bread. Biscottis are also considered cucina povera: the double baking technique is related to making the cookies last more.
When making aglio e olio you’re recycling nothing. However, I like to say this is a cucina povera recipe because you can make it with three simple and humble ingredients: fresh garlic, oil, and pasta, all easily found in any pantry. But don’t take me wrong: as cheap as it is, this pasta is heavenly delicious.
Pasta a mezzanotte
Aglio e olio pasta is also known as pasta a mezzanotte or midnight pasta because it’s something you can make in the middle of the night with only a few ingredients. Other midnight pasta recipes in my blog include garlic, olive oil and anchovies capellini, pasta alla puttanesca, and pasta with anchovies and capers.
Comfort food at its best
No need to say that I’m a garlic lover, killer, you name it, and if it’s related to garlic, that’s me. Pasta aglio e olio is my favorite comfort food ever: the food that I want to eat when I’m happy and the food I want if I’m stressed or sad.
Pasta with olive oil and garlic is also my favorite dish in the world. Sometimes I ask my family: Do you mind if I do pasta with olive oil and garlic again? Fortunately, I never get a no for an answer because we all love pasta aglio e olio.
What to serve with aglio e olio pasta
Because this is my favorite food on the planet, I need nothing else. But pasta with garlic and olive oil goes well with a salad with a citrusy vinaigrette, a Caprese salad or focaccia, or both.
How to pair spaghetti aglio e olio
This is a very summery dish. While living in California, I used to pair it with a chill pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. Now that I live in Miami, I prefer to have it with a chianti or merlot despite the heat.
What is the best pasta for aglio e olio
I like this pasta either with capelli d’angelo, also known as capellini (angel’s hair) or vermicelli, and guess what: dinner can be ready in less than 15 minutes. Capellini, for example, are cooked al dente in less than 5 minutes. So BINGO!
Tips for the perfect aglio e olio
This recipe proves, one more time, that the simpler, the better. To create a light yet flavorful dish, you just need six ingredients, including coarse sea salt and crushed red pepper. Following are my tips for the perfect pasta with olive oil and garlic:
- The first step is to flavor the olive oil by simmering the garlic on it. For many years, I wrongly believed that sautéing the garlic until golden would be enough. With the time, I learned that simmering the garlic until it gets golden brown is the best. The result is crispy garlic chips in your dish and the best flavor ever.
- When making aglio, olio e peperoncino, add the red pepper flakes to the oil with the garlic. The only reason I add the peperoncino at serving time is because one of my kids doesn’t like hot and spicy food. But if like me, you love spicy food, don’t be shy and add crushed red pepper flakes to your taste.
- To balance the garlic flavor, parsley is the key ingredient. When I first began cooking this pasta, I sprinkled some minced parsley on my plate. Now I like to add parsley not as a garnish but as a “main” ingredient. Its fresh crispiness perfectly balances the tart flavor of the garlic.
- Another good idea is to add some of the water in which the pasta was cooked, to the pan, at the moment you’re combining al dente pasta with the aglio e olio. This will help all the ingredients to combine better.
- You can also add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Roman Pecorino cheese while stirring the pasta in the pan. For this pasta, I prefer the Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano nutty flavor. By adding pasta water and cheese to the pan you will create a cremier and less oily aglio e olio.
How to make pasta aglio e olio
To make this delicious pasta recipe, you’ll need some kitchen tools and ingredients, including:
- Cutting board
- Wooden spoon
- Pasta pot
- Pasta server
- Coarse sea salt
Aglio e olio pasta recipe
The following is my recipe. I hope you like it as much as we do.
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Pasta aglio e olio
- 1 package Capellini (Angel Hair) or Vermicelli
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 10-12 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1 cup curled parsley, coarsely chopped
- Coarse sea salt
- Peperoncino (crushed red pepper flakes)
- Parmigiano Reggianno or Grana Padano cheese
- In a pot over high heat, put the water to cook the pasta to boil.
- Add the olive oil to a saucepan on medium-low heat and simmer the garlic for about 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside.
- In the meantime, add salt to the water and cook the pasta al dente.
- When the pasta is done, reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta water. Strain the pasta and inmediately add the pasta to the saucepan with the aglio e olio.
- Stir the pasta, add the parsley and combine. Add pasta water as needed and continue strirring.Add parmesan cheese and stir until a creamy thing cot covers the pasta.
- Serve warm with red pepper flakes and more cheese.
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Check some of my favorite pasta recipes:
- Anchovy and Zucchini Linguine
- Linguine alla Puttanesca
- Pasta all’amatriciana
- Pasta al filetto di pomodoro
- Pasta Primavera with Anchovy Creme
- Penne all’arrabbiata
- Pumpkin Tagliatelle Alfredo
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