A white bowl on a red and white checked table cloth. in the bowl there is spaghetti coated with grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, fresh chopped parsley and lemon zest

Spaghetti aglio e olio

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

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Add the salt to a pasta pot and top off with cold water

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Cover and bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat

Once at a boil add in the pasta and leave uncovered

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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

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Drizzle the pasta with some olive oil to prevent clumping and set aside

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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

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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

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Once the garlic starts cooking continue for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally

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You want the garlic to be soft and lightly browned

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Carefully add in 2 cups of the reserved pasta water to the oil and garlic

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Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 5-6 minutes

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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

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Add the cheese to the pasta

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Sprinkle with the parsley, lemon zest and pepper and stir to combine

Allow to cook another 2-3 minutes

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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

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Serve up a bowl of this delicious pasta with some extra cheese and they will come back for more!

A white bowl on a red and white checked table cloth. in the bowl there is spaghetti coated with grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, fresh chopped parsley and lemon zest

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Enjoy!!!

Simply Sundays! ~ Spaghetti aglio e olio

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Mini Prep Glass Bowl

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

© Simply Sundays 2020
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7 thoughts on “Spaghetti aglio e olio

  1. 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

  2. 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!

    1. The tuna is a great idea! The lemon zest isn’t traditional, but it adds such an awesome pop of flavor to the dish!

  3. 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!

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