Here's the recipe for the classic Italian spaghetti side dish, Spaghetti e Aglio e Olio, Spaghetti with Garlic & Olive Oil. It's a new recipe for me but is ever-so-useful because it can be cooked ahead of time and then served later, still perfectly fresh and moist. Oh yes. And garlicky, a very very garlicky good thing.
Say ‘ciao’ to a simple Italian pasta side dish that meal-wise is handy to have in your back pocket but taste-wise is so unforgettable it just might take up residence in a front pocket.
Why handy? Just make the pasta and then think time shift. While waiting on the rest of supper, say, keep the pasta warm on the stove to serve only minutes later. For a make-ahead meal, refrigerate to serve hours later, then just rewarm in a skillet. Either way, the pasta tastes fresh-from-the-pot good.
Why unforgettable? Think garlick-y salty pasta, cloaked in just enough olive oil to make it soft and drapey. Delizioso!
The recipe isn’t really a recipe, it’s all technique. But don’t worry, the technique is new-cook simple. Here’s how it goes:
Cook some pasta. Sizzle some garlic in oil. Toss ‘em together with some hot pasta water, just enough to keep it all moist. If you’re in the mood, stir in some red pepper flakes and fresh herbs. Serve and savor! Buon Appetito!
SPAGHETTI AGLIO E OLIO
(Spaghetti with Garlic & Olive Oil)
Time to table: 30 minutes
- 8 cups water
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 6 ounces dried pasta, preferably Italian, such as spaghetti, capellini, angel hair or another thin strip (see TIPS)
- 2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed flat
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Hot pasta water
- Red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 – 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley or other herbs, optional
In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Add the pasta, cover and let cook until pasta is ‘al dente’ – not quite done.
Meanwhile, in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta once it’s cooked, heat the olive oil on medium low heat until shimmery. Add the garlic and let cook slowly, barely sizzling and just until golden brown. Remove the garlic and transfer the oil to a small bowl.
When the pasta is done, lift it out of the pot into a colander to drain briefly, then drop into the still-hot skillet. RESERVE the pasta water and keep hot. Stir in the kosher salt, then stir the pasta around, coating it with the oil left in the skillet. Add a tablespoon or two of the hot pasta water to keep the pasta moist until serving time. (If needed, you may pause here for up to an hour or so. Rewarm the pasta, adding more water if needed.) Just before serving, stir in a tablespoon of olive oil and the red pepper flakes. Taste and decide if you want to add more oil. Stir in the parsley and transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with more garlic oil if desired.
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