It looks simple, it IS simple, but it tastes amazing. This Spaghetti aglio e olio - or chilli oil spaghetti as I usually call it - is al dente pasta tossed in warm garlicky olive oil with the addition of chilli flakes for some gentle warming heat.
So tasty, so easy, and ready in 17 minutes!
Sometimes simple is best, and this recipe calls for only a few simple ingredients. It's just the thing when you're craving a bowl of warming carby goodness.
🙋🏻♀️ What is spaghetti aglio e olio?
Spaghetti aglio e olio means 'spaghetti with garlic and oil' and it's a simple, inexpensive pasta dish that originated in Naples. The garlic is sauteed in olive oil, then tossed with spaghetti, seasoning and parsley.
Sometimes chilli flakes are added (like my version) - which would technically make it 'Spaghetti aglio e olio peperoncino'. I also like to finish the dish with a little lemon zest and shaved Parmesan (or vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese for a vegetarian option).
📋 What do we need?
- Try to use the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford. It gives a richer, more earthy flavour than regular olive oil. Often, extra virgin olive oil is used for dressings or to pour over a finished dish, rather than cooking. It has a lower smoke point than other oils, so it doesn't suit high temperature cooking. However, we're cooking this dish over a low heat.
- Parmesan - I like to finish this dish with shaved parmesan. You can also use pecorino or grana padano. Or use vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese for a vegetarian alternative.
📺 Watch how to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
👩🍳PRO TIP Be sure to save some of the water you cooked the pasta in. We add a good splash of this to the pan with the pasta and garlic to provide a little sauciness. The starch from the pasta water emulsifies with the olive oil, so the pasta coating is smooth and tasty, rather than oily-tasting.
A humble but wonderfully tasty dinner, on the table in 17 minutes.
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Spaghetti aglio e olio
- 400 g (14 oz) dried spaghetti
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 3 garlic cloves - peeled and minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 4 tbsp shaved vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese - (or Parmesan for non-vegetarian)
- lemon zest from one lemon
- black pepper
- Cook the spaghetti as per the pack instructions (ideally until al dente – about 8-10 minutes) in a large pan of boiling salted water. Once cooked, drain, reserving a half a cup of the pasta cooking water.400 g (14 oz) dried spaghetti
- When the pasta is almost cooked (about 5 minutes from the end of cooking), heat the olive oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a low-medium heat.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Add the chilli flakes, garlic, salt, and pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.1 tsp chilli flakes, 3 garlic cloves, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper
- Add the drained spaghetti and a good splash (about 4 tablespoons) of pasta cooking water. Stir together, adding more pasta water, if desired.3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- Stir in the chopped parsley.
- Divide between bowls and top with shaved cheese, a little lemon zest, and black pepper.4 tbsp shaved vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese, black pepper, lemon zest from one lemon
No adjustment to the cooking time needed. Nutritional information is approximate, per serving (this recipes serves 4).
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