Today we're going real basic. I’m making spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It’s spaghetti with oil and garlic that’s what Aglio e Olio means. Aglio is garlic and Olio is oil. It’s the simplest pasta you can make which makes it the most difficult.
It’s literally Garlic, Red Pepper Flake, Salt, Spaghetti, Parsley, and Olive Oil. That’s it!
We’re going to have to nail it! I’ve seen a lot of ways to do it, and lots of additions. In Italy it’s apparently a sin to put cheese on this. If served with cheese to an Italian they will call it Cacio e Pepe. So we’re not gonna put any cheese on although feel free to go ahead and add cheese if you like. I’ve seen people add lemon to this, all of those things are good. But I’m gonna show you the most basic way to make the most basic pasta, probably also the cheapest, and if done right one of the best.
So let’s just get into it, the first thing we want to do is prep the ingredients for our sauce.
3 to 4 big cloves should be plenty for this dish. Some people like garlic more than others and I found that a lot of real Italians don’t like a lot of garlic, but I do! So I am going with a little bit more. Feel free to use your judgement. We want to use the big cloves because they are easier to slice. Even, thin slices are important because a lot of that garlic flavor gets cooked off, but we still want to be able to taste it.
Peel your garlic cloves by removing the skins of each clove.
Take your time, thinly slice your garlic cloves.
Wash and dry your parsley. Remove the stem.
Gather the Parsley up in a bunch and run your knife along the bunch in a chopping motion close to your cutting board. Slow down when you get to the end and gather your parsley together and continue chopping.
Continue chopping your parsley until you have a finely minced batch of parsley.
The prep work for this dish is a great time to practice your knife skills.
So we’re pretty much ready to go. I’ve got a big pot of salt water boiling over there the only time you’re really going to season this is through the pasta water so now more than ever it’s important to make sure the water is properly salted. We are going to use a lot of the pasta water to make this dish.
The sauce is basically an emulsification of the olive oil infused with red pepper flakes and garlic and the starchy pasta water. That's it. So we want to make sure the pasta was all salted.
1lb of dried Spaghetti Pasta
3-4 large garlic cloves
1 bunch of Parsley (Minced)
Red Pepper flakes (To taste)
Salt and Pepper to taste
To a large pot of water set to boil, add 2 - 3 big pinches of Salt
Once the water has boiled drop in your 1 lb of pasta (Be aware of the cooking times on the package of pasta you purchased. We are going to be pulling the pasta just before it hits al dente, about 2-3 minutes before that package instructions say to. We will finish cooking the pasta in our sauce.)
Add ¼ cup of olive oil or enough to generously a large skillet pan set over medium low heat to begin gently cooking your garlic.
Add the sliced garlic to the oil. After a minute add the red pepper flake.
Cook until the garlic is softened but not browned. Add a ladle of pasta water to the skillet (you will hear a sizzle when the water is added). This will stop the garlic from cooking and cool down the pan.
Start to add the pasta to the skillet 2-3 minutes before the packages instructs.
Once the pasta hits the skillet, start shaking and moving it around. The pasta will begin to absorb the sauce. The shaking and tossing of the pasta is done to help the starchy pasta water emulsify with the garlic infused oil to create a sauce.
Add 1 ladle of pasta water at a time, until your pasta has reach the desired doneness.
As few generous sprinkles of parsley and continue to shake and mix the pasta, sauce and parsley.
Stir and shake your skillet and add water as needed to maintain the sauce. The pasta will continue to absorb the sauce so make sure you have enough in the pan. If it gets too dry, add more pasta water and you could also finish with a bit more oil.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a little spicy, it’s herbaceous thanks to the parsley. The garlic flavor is there. The pasta is coated with the emulsified sauce, not oily at all.
Once you start cooking, this is not something you can walk away from. The dish needs you to stay there. Once we put the pasta in the pot to boil, we’re already making the sauce. Everything is happening and it takes no more than 10 to 12 minutes to cook this dish. You want to be there and just kind of be aware and look for dryness, if that happens, add a little bit more pasta water keeps shaking and stirring at all times.
Just practice. You’ll know when it’s done. This dish brings all the ingredients together cohesively.
Everyone can make this. Everyone has these ingredients. Everyone can afford it. If your dying of starvation, learn to make this dish and go feed yourself!
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