The Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is an Italian regional dish from the Naples area. It is the basis of the neapolitan gastronomy.
Why am I saying that the spaghetti aglio e olio (“spavette aglio e uoglio” in Neapolitan) is the basis of our kitchen? Simple. A great number of pasta recipes start from here and then add on other ingredients and steps. We could say it’s a modular kitchen.
It is very quick. In fact it could be as quick as the time specified on the spaghetti package. So if your pasta cooks in 5 mins, that’s what it would take from the moment the water boils to the time you are serving and eating!
Yep, it’s the neapolitan version of fast food! The difference? This is way healtier.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- 400 gr. Spaghetti
- 4 tbsp Olive oil extra virgin
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- 1-3 Red Chillies
- 1 tbsp Salt coarse, for the pasta water
- 1 sprig Parsley optional
- Place a pot with cold water on the stove and turn on. Once the water starts boiling, throw the spaghetti in the water and add salt.
- Place the pan on the stove and add the olive oil, the cloves of garlic (crushed or sliced in half) and the red chillies.
- Once the garlic has become “blonde” or a light brown, turn off the fire. Add the parsley, chopped.
- As soon as the spaghetti are “al dente”, drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
- Stir the spaghetti in the pan with the oil and garlic for about a minute. If too dry add a couple of spoon of the cooking water.
- Place in the dishes and serve hot.
- Make sure you do not burn the garlic: it have to become a lighter brown or blonde color. More than that it will aquire a burnt flavour which is not nice.
- Never, ever, ever grate parmesan or any other cheese over it! That’s not what an aglio & olio is. Of course you are free to experiment and try something else but the original recipe don’t include it.
- Alternatively, you could also use Linguine or Vermicelli. These are different kinds of long pasta which are suitable for the recipe.
As tradition has it , this is a dish to eat when you just want to get a meal ready without spending too much time in the kitchen. Perhaps late at night, coming back from a party or after a tiring day of work.
Aglio e Olio: The reign of simplicity
It might sound like a poor dish, and infact it comes from a tradition of “cucina povera”, where people couldn’t afford to buy lots of ingredients and sometimes they had to resort to making the most of what they had around in the kitchen.
However don’t be fooled by its simplicity. These spaghetti when done properly taste amazing.
Simplicity in the kitchen could be the most complicate thing… yes I know, it is a paradox but that’s what happens when you have to bring out the best from few basic ingredients. You can’t disguise any error or bring out more flavour adding other ingredients or spices.
For the same reason, make sure to use quality ingredients: first of all, the oil. It must be extra virgin olive oil to really bring out and blend the flavours.
Parsley is optional, but if you use it make sure it’s the fresh one and not dry.
If you don’t like chillies or don’t have any around in the house, no problem. It’s delicious anyway: there must be a reason why it’s called spaghetti aglio e olio and not aglio, olio e peperoncino (which is its most popular variation).
The garlic. Some people prefer to chop it or finely slice it, although many family in Neaples – and I – prefer to just crush it or slice it in half. This way you can still see it in the plate, but can leave it aside if you want.
The important thing is that it has released the flavour in the oil
Just make sure not to burn the garlic or it would not be so good anymore.