This Spaghetti Aglio e Olio also known as Garlic and Oil Pasta is probably one of the most popular Italian Pasta Dishes. Made with only 4 ingredients, this fast and easy pasta recipe is simple yet delicious.
When I think of authentic Italian pasta dishes, this has to be one of the first that comes to mind. Spaghetti made with garlic, olive oil and hot pepper flakes or a fresh hot pepper is probably one of the simplest and easiest pasta dishes to make.
And needless to say one of the most delicious.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil
- Garlic – 3 cloves garlic minced
- Hot red pepper flakes – or 1 hot pepper (pepperoncino) or both
- Fresh parsley – minced also known as Italian or flat leaf parsley – optional
- Spaghetti – cooked al dente, good quality
Because there are few ingredients in this dish, be sure to choose good quality ingredients.
Why add parsley?
Some of you might think that adding parsley isn’t authentic, but it is the authentic Napoleon way and is becoming quite popular throughout Italy. The addition of parsley works very well with this dish. Of course you don’t have to add it if you don’t want to.
Are red pepper flakes and chili flakes the same thing?
No they are not the same thing, each are made with different peppers. Chili flakes are made with chili peppers, whereas red pepper flakes are made with a variety of red peppers with different heat levels.
How to Make Spaghetti with Oil and Garlic
In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the very pasta al dente.
If you are using fresh pepper, then slice it down the middle, remove the seeds and chop.
Two minutes before pasta is cooked as per package instructions, in a large deep frying pan add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes or pepper, cook on medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. Stirring occasionally (being careful not to let anything burn). If pasta is not yet cooked then remove from heat.
Replace on the heat, add half the parsley, and cook for a few seconds.
the pasta and some reserved pasta water. Toss together continuously while cooking for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is al dente and the water has evaporated.
Serve immediately. Top with additional parsley if desired.
What is the best pasta to use
Traditionally Italians will make this recipe with spaghetti and only spaghetti. I have never seen it served with anything else, such as linguine or fettuccine. Make sure you use a good quality pasta and check the package for cooking time.
The pasta I used might not look like traditional spaghetti, it is known as Spaghetti alla chitarra. It’s a thicker type of spaghetti.
Should you serve it with Parmesan cheese?
I would definitely not, but it has been known that some regions will serve it with a sprinkle of grated pecorino.
How to cook pasta
Always cook the pasta in enough water, you will need 4 cups (1 litre) for 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) of pasta. Be sure to choose the correct size pot, you don’t want the water to reach the rim and overflow, because pasta, when cooked, can increase in volume up to three times. Always cover the pot when boiling the water, but remove it once the pasta has been added.
Calculate about 7 g of salt for every litre of water. Add the salt only when the water has reached a boil and never before.
After adding the pasta to the pot, bring it back to a boil and keep it at a boil while the pasta is cooking. This allows the pasta to achieve an even cooking, be sure to stir frequently while it is cooking.
Never pass the freshly drained pasta under running tap water. You should never stop the cooking, even when you are making a cold pasta salad, let it cool by adding a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking.
Drain the pasta al dente, this is done by tasting, if it has a bite to it it’s ready, nothing worse than mushy pasta. If you have to toss the pasta in a pan (like this recipe) then cook it at least 1-2 minutes less (pasta very al dente).
How to store it
Pasta aglio e olio is best eaten when made although if you do have leftovers, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. It will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge. Reheat the pasta in a skillet with a little oil and heat through, you could probably reheat it also in the microwave.
I can remember at midnight the night of our wedding reception (we had a second reception on our arrival in Italy), my husband’s uncle had the restaurant kitchen cook up bowls and bowls of Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino for all the guests.
A big plate of Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil was and is an Italian tradition to serve this dish at midnight, during a big party or get together. This simple dish became part of a beautiful memory for me. Buon Appetito!
More Simple Pasta Recipes
Authentic Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes or 1 hot pepper (more if desired)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
- 3-4 cups cooked spaghetti (6-8 ounces dry)
- ¼ cup reserved pasta water
- In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the very pasta al dente (2 minutes before al dente)
- If you are using fresh pepper, then slice it down the middle, remove the seeds and chop. You can use both dry and fresh if you prefer, that's what I do.
- Two minutes before pasta is cooked as per package instructions, in a large deep frying pan add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes or pepper, cook on medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. Stirring occasionally (being careful not to let anything burn). If pasta is not yet cooked then remove from heat.
- Replace on the heat, add half the parsley, and cook for a few seconds.
- Then add the pasta and the reserved pasta water. Toss together continuously while cooking on medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is al dente and the water has evaporated. Serve immediately with the remaining fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy!
Updated from March 26, 2018.