Spaghetti tossed in an olive oil and garlic sauce topped with grated parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and lemon zest. Simple, rustic and completely delicious!
I was born in Brooklyn and lived there up until I was around 12 years old
We were in a very Italian neighborhood but like most families we were of mixed heritage. My father was Sicilian and my mom is Irish
Typically in these situations the Italian side of the family taught their recipes to the Irish as was the case in my family with my father’s mother (Grandma Poggio) teaching my mom
One of our favorite dishes passed down was pasta in garlic oil which when you lived in Brooklyn was pronounced “aye ya yoy ya”
As in “Hey Ma? Is the aye ya yoy ya ready yet?”
It wasn’t until years later while watching an Italian cooking show that the chef was making this dish and pronounced it all wrong. He called it aglio e olio, I mean, was he kidding me?? Well… it turns out he was correct
So what is aglio e olio?
Aglio e olio (phonetically pronounced AH-lloe-OH-lee-o) is a rustic pasta dish from Naples in which garlic is lightly sauteed in olive oil and pasta water is then added in to make a sauce. So it is literally spaghetti with garlic and oil
To get started we will need 1 pound of dry spaghetti and 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt
Add the salt to a pasta pot and top off with cold water
Cover and bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat
Once at a boil add in the pasta and leave uncovered
Though the directions for this particular brand of pasta call for 10 minutes of cooking for “al dente’ pasta we are going to cook the pasta for 8-9 minutes since it will cook a bit more in the garlic sauce
Before draining reserve at least 2 cups of pasta water
Why reserve the pasta water?
As the pasta cooks it releases starch into the water which can then be used as a thickener for sauces. It also helps the sauce adhere back to the pasta so you don’t miss out on any flavor
Drizzle the pasta with some olive oil to prevent clumping and set aside
Now let’s start on the sauce
We will need 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
Place all of these ingredients into a cold pan then place it over low heat and let it warm up slowly
The idea here is to slow cook the garlic allowing its flavor to permeate the oil without any chance of the garlic burning
Burnt garlic is bitter so take your time
Once the garlic starts cooking continue for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally
You want the garlic to be soft and lightly browned
Carefully add in 2 cups of the reserved pasta water to the oil and garlic
Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 5-6 minutes
Add the reserved pasta to the sauce and stir around to coat
Next we will need 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley, the zest of one lemon and about 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
We are breaking tradition with the lemon zest but it adds a lovely bright pop to the dish
Add the cheese to the pasta
Sprinkle with the parsley, lemon zest and pepper and stir to combine
Allow to cook another 2-3 minutes
Remove from the heat and allow the pasta to rest for a few minutes to absorb some of the sauce
Taste and re-season as needed
Serve up a bowl of this delicious pasta with some extra cheese and they will come back for more!
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Simply Sundays! ~ Spaghetti aglio e olio
1 pound of dry spaghetti (cooked, drained and drizzled with olive oil)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups of reserved pasta water
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
kosher salt to taste
Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt to a pasta pot and fill with cold water. Cover and bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat. Once at a boil add in the pasta and leave uncovered
Cook the pasta for 8-9 minutes. Before draining reserve 2 cups of pasta water. Drain the pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent clumping and set aside
In a cold pan add in 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. Turn the heat on low and let it slowly warm up until the garlic starts cooking. Then continue to cook for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally. You want the garlic to be soft and lightly browned
Carefully add in 2 cups of the reserved pasta water to the oil and garlic. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add the reserved pasta to the sauce and stir around to coat
Next add in 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley, the zest of one lemon and about 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Stir to combine and allow to cook another 2-3 minutes
Remove from the heat and allow the pasta to rest for a few minutes to absorb some of the sauce. Taste and re-season as needed. Serve in a bowl sprinkled with extra cheese
Tools used to make this recipe
Anchor Hocking 8 Cup Measuring Cup Glass Batter Bowl with Spout
Architec Carving Board, Gripperwood
NuWave Flex Precision Induction Cooktop
Royal Classique 10 Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons Set with Silicone Handles
Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Tagine and Extra Glass Lid, 4.5-Quart
ZELITE INFINITY Chef Knife 8 inch
Cook N Home, Stainless Steel 4-Piece 8 Quart Pasta Cooker Steamer Multipots
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7 thoughts on “Spaghetti aglio e olio”
This is my favorite dish I could never pronounce it but I love it and I never made it the proper way and now I can thank you so much
You’re welcome! Enjoy!
Our family adds a large can of tuna in oil to the oil and garlic mix, warm gently… no lemon…. toss with spaghetti… this is our favorite!
The tuna is a great idea! The lemon zest isn’t traditional, but it adds such an awesome pop of flavor to the dish!
This is VERY GOOD. My daughter made it with regular pasta for the rest of the family, and I made it with gluten free pasta for me. YUM. If you like garlic, this is for you!
Awesome! So glad you liked it!