Spaghetti Aglio e olio, or spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, is a simple, quick plant-based meal for a busy weekday. From start to finish 20 minutes with five ingredients. Don’t let the simplicity and speed fool you. It is a treat for not only the taste buds, but for the soul.
I learned about Spaghetti Aglio e olio from Stanley Tucci during his series, Searching for Italy, as it was his Dad’s go-to recipe for Friday nights. This dish is known as “culinary rustica” which is rural home-style cooking and is from region of Abruzzo that is about 50 miles east of Rome. It is a dish of the people.
The ingredients are simple and available as most of us have them in our pantry: spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, and salted water. That’s all. As the very salted water is boiling, peel and slice the garlic paper thin. And as the pasta is cooking, make the sauce which is olive olive, red pepper flakes, and parsley. If you generously salt the pasta water then you won’t need to add salt to the dish. Just make sure you don’t burn the garlic as it will be bitter. So keep a close on it it as garlic can turn burnt in a blink of an eye. Reserve some of the pasta water before you drain the spaghetti to thicken the sauce once you have added the pasta to the sauce. I usually just use tongs to grab the pasta and put it in the sauce swirling it around so it carries some water with it in the transfer. Grate some cheese — vegan or otherwise — and sprinkle parsley and you have a nice looking meal. Add a salad and you have a delicious dinner.
If you enjoyed this dish and are looking for another simple, quick Italian meal? Try Cacio e Pepe.
- 16 oz spaghetti
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 4-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes, or to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup grated dairy or vegan parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
- salt, to taste
- 1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and add spaghetti cooking per package directions. Usually 10 minutes.
- 2. Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves.
- 3. Heat the olive oil over medium hear in pan. Add the garlic and chili flakes cooking gently for a few minutes, or until the garlic is pale gold. Watching carefully not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter.
- 4. Stir in chopped parsley.
- 5. Before draining the spaghetti, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
- 6. Add spaghetti to pan, stir well to coat with the oil, add some starchy cooking water to thicken the sauce a little bit.
- 7. Cook on medium heat for 30 seconds, stirring a couple of times.
- 8. Sprinkle with extra chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.