Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a perfect example of how you can put together an incredible meal with just four everyday ingredients.A classic Italian dish featuring spaghetti in Garlic infused olive oil and chillis. For added flavor, I have garnished it with some pecorino romano and fresh parsley.

spaghetti in Garlic infused olive oil , chillis, parsley and parmesan

Just look at the picture, how the spaghetti is slathered in a glorious garlic chili olive oil sauce. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio which translates into Pasta in garlic and olive oil shows the simplicity of Italian cuisine. Not all pasta needs to be tossed in a tomato or heavy cheese-based sauce, neither you need 10 ingredients to make a good pasta. You see spaghetti, garlic, olive oil, and chilli here. I have add some fresh parsley and pecorino romano, which is absolutely optional.

When we visited Italy back in 2019, I had seen Aglio e Olio in every restaurant menu. I have even seen small packets of Aglio e Olio seasoning mix being sold in every tourist place that had dried garlic granules, chilli flakes, and herbs. I grabbed a few packets on my way back home. Though these packets are convenient to use, the flavor comes nowhere close to the fresh ingredients. When made from scratch, it takes less than 20 minutes in total. In fact I have read on Instagram that this is popular as a late-night snack option as it is that easy to make.

There is tons of garlic(yet not overpowering), high-quality olive oil, and a hint if chilli pepper flakes for heat. Though this recipe has the shortest list of ingredients, for a perfect Aglio e Olio, there are a few tips and tricks that you need to keep in mind.

spaghetti in Garlic infused olive oil , chillis, parsley and parmesan - a perfect aglio e olio

Ingredients you need

  • Spaghetti – I always go with spaghetti. You can use any other long-shaped pasta like linguine, bucatini, or angel hair pasta. A short pasta shape and flat one like fettuccine, or pappardelle is not my personal preference.
  • Olive Oil – definitely a high-quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Garlic – fresh garlic pods finely minced. There is no other substitute to this. Garlic powder of bottled ones is a big no.
  • Chilli pepper flakes

Optional

  • Pecorino Romano & Fresh Parsley – Cheese and parsley are optional, but they complement the pasta well without overpowering the other flavors. But for purists, it’s a no.

Other Flavor Variations

Though it will no more be an authentic version, you can play with a few variations.

  • Add a fillet of anchovy. The salty anchovy adds umami and elevates the dish. Chop it small and add before adding pasta. Let it melt into the sauce.
  • You can add fresh lemon zest for a twist.
  • Last but not least, you can add a few veggies like spinach, kale, zucchini etc.
  • Instead of parmesan, top it with toasted garlic breadcrumbs. Crunchy breadcrumbs will complement the pasta well.
Ingredients for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

4 simple steps to make Aglio e Olio

Cook spaghetti

Start with cooking pasta as per package instructions. Bring just enough water to a boil and salt it generously.

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Reserved pasta water for the sauce –

The starchy pasta water is the magic ingredient that thickens the sauce. Just before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

Infuse Oil with garlic and chilli flakes-

While pasta is cooking, mince garlic, add minced garlic in barely warm oil, and cook it on the lowest possible heat. You can take the pan off the heat in between to control the heat. Once the oil is aromatic, add chilli flakes. Let the chilli flakes infuse on low heat.

Cook spaghetti.
Infuse olive oil with garlic nd chilli pepper flakes.

Toss pasta

Add cooked pasta along with pasta cooking water. Keeping the heat low, toss the pasta in a circular motion for the pasta cooking water to emulsify and make a glossy sauce.

The last optional step is to sprinkle freshly shredded cheese and chopped parsley to finish of the dish.

Add pasta cooking water and then spaghettis.

Recipe Tips

  1. Don’t let the garlic burn or get too brown. it will give a bitter aftertaste. Keep the heat to the lowest. Another trick is to take the pan off the heat in between to control the heat. Stirring the garlic in between helps it to cook evenly.
  2. Avoid mashing the garlic too fine to a paste, otherwise, it will stick to the pan.
  3. Similar to garlic, chilli flakes will also burn in no time. So make sure the heat is extremely low
  4. Add just enough water to cook pasta and save cooking water towards the end. The water will be more starchy and the sauce will thicken beautifully.
  5. Once you add spaghetti and pasta cooking water, toss vigorously for the oil and water to emulsify.
spaghetti in Garlic infused olive oil , chillis, parsley and parmesan - a perfect aglio e olio

Serve Aglio e Olio with

I don’t mind having this as it is, I love the simple flavors. A slice of cheesy garlic bread will be a wonderful pairing.

Italian Parmesan chicken or Airfryer chicken breast, both with a crispy crust can also be served with Aglio e olio to make a complete meal.

Storing leftovers

It hardly takes 20 minutes to make it, so I would strongly recommend making it fresh.

Storing – Because there is no cream, butter or cheese sauce, its stores perfectly well up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. While reheating, sprinkle little water and microwave to warm it.

More Pasta recipes

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
4 ingredients spaghetti aglio e olio with garlic, chilli flakes, and olive oil have the most flavorful sauce.
Servings 4 serving

Ingredients
  

  • 250 grams Spaghetti
  • 5-6 Garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup pasta cooking water
  • cup parmesan
  • 2-3 tbsp parsley

Instructions

  • Take just enough water to cook spaghetti. Generously season with salt and cook pasta 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions. When the pasta is cooked, just before draining it, the cooking water will be starchy enough. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
  • While pasta is cooking, roughly mince garlic cloves. Don't make it as a paste, else it will stick to the skillet.
  • In a 12-inch skillet add olive oil. To the cold oil add minced garlic. Switch on the stove to the lowest heat. Garlic will start to sizzle. Let it cook on low heat until you can smell the garlic. Don't let the garlic turn brown. Keep stirring in between to cook garlic evenly.
  • When the garlic is cooked, add chilli flakes. Toss it until it is aromatic. Chilli pepper flakes will burn in no time if the oil is hot, so be vigilant.
  • Add 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and mix vigorously for a minute to emulsify the mixture. You would see the sauce getting thick and glossy.
  • Add drained pasta and 1/4th cup more pasta cooking water. Toss spaghetti in a circular motion for the starchy water to emulsify and coat the pasta well.
  • Cook pasta for a couple of minutes until it is cooked and al dente.
  • Finish it off by adding chopped parsley and freshly shredded parmesan.
  • Serve and drizzle with sauce from the pan with garlic bits.

Notes

  • Pasta cooking water had enough salt, so I did not add more salt. 
  • Use fresh red chillies if you have. 
  • For  crunch, top it with toasted breadcrumbs while serving. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 183mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 382IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 1mg
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