Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Garlic and oil compete to star in the show here, and the dish is all the better for it. There are a few keys to success with this simple, nondairy recipe. First, save some cooking water from the pasta to add to the cooked pasta and oil mixture for a smoother sauce. Second, monitor the garlic vigilantly after adding it to the hot oil (it goes from golden delicious to burnt bitterness in seconds). And last, but certainly not least: use good extra-virgin olive oil for the sauce, and if possible, finish each serving with a drizzle of your favorite robust olive oil—either bold and fruity or flavored, like roasted chili.
- 4 quarts water
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- 1/3 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil that is smooth and well-balanced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup packed coarsely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Top-quality extra-virgin olive oil for garnish (optional)
- Sea salt for garnish (optional)
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions for al dente pasta. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, and drain pasta.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, just until the garlic just starts to turn golden. Immediately stir in the spaghetti and parsley, and then pour in the reserved pasta cooking water. Add black pepper to taste. Toss over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to evenly distribute the sauce. Remove pan from heat.
- Serve hot in individual bowls, and if desired, drizzle each portion with a little more extra-virgin olive oil and a light sprinkle of sea salt or kosher salt.
- Note: For the sauce, I liked using Makura brand kosher organic extra-virgin olive oil from Israel, which can be purchased along with flavored finishing oils (roasted chili was a favorite) at Ah Love Oil & Vinegar stores in Virginia or Washington, DC, or online.