Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic (Aglio e Olio) is a classic Italian pasta dish that’s easy, simple and takes less than 20 minutes to make.
A brilliant example of a dish that doesn’t need a long list of ingredients to be outstanding.
Simple Ingredients Big Flavour
I’m not usually fussed if a vegetable or a piece of fruit has a spot here or a mark there.
But l do make an exception with Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic (Aglio e Olio) . Since it uses such simple ingredients, everything has to be perfect.
Above all, the quality of the olive oil is super important. For this dish, l use extra virgin olive oil. It’s the olive oil that pulls together all the flavours, giving the dish its richness and luscious texture.
The garlic needs to be plump and crisp when you slice through it. If using fresh chillies, they should be bright red with a shiny skin, and make sure your parsley has crisp dark green leaves; no floppy stalks please.
Not usually included in an Aglio e Olio, shallots/spring onions give this dish an added sweetness. It’s my little spin on this recipe. Sometimes, l even mash 3 or 4 anchovy fillets to give another layer of flavour.
My final word is not to be too stingy with how much olive oil (or any of the other ingredients for that matter) you use. During a trip to Italy a few years ago, l booked myself into a cooking class. I can still clearly recall my Italian cooking instructor being quite perplexed at how little olive oil our recipes prescribe. In her lilting Italian accent she commented something along the lines of, “Just-a one or two-a tablespoons? Why so little?”
I suppose her message was, if you want flavour, be generous with your ingredients.
I will now come off my high horse and leave you with it. Enjoy!
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Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 8 mins
Adapting the Recipe. Double the ingredients for 4 people.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or thinly sliced
- 4 shallots/spring onions, thinly sliced then finely chopped
- 4 bird’s eye chillies, seeds removed, finely chopped or 2 tsp chilli flakes
- 200 g/7 oz linguine or pasta of your choice (note 1)
- 3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 30 g/1 oz grated parmesan cheese plus extra for sprinkling
- salt & pepper to taste
TIP: Begin sauteing the ingredients two minutes before the pasta is ready.
- Fill a medium sized pot to three quarters full. Add 2 tsp salt. Bring to boil. Add the pasta and cook for approximately 8 minutes or as per instructions on packet. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of hot pasta water.
- Heat oil in a medium sized pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic, shallots and chillies. Saute for roughly 2 minutes . Don’t let the garlic burn. Add 1/4 cup of hot pasta water.
- Add the pasta, parsley and parmesan. Keep tossing the pasta (note 2).
- Have a taste. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide among pasta bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese.
- I usually allocate between 90 – 100 g / 3 – 3.5 oz of pasta person person.
- Tossing the pasta will help release some of the starch. The water and oil will emulsify, thickening and coating the pasta.