Classic Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is easy to make with just 4 simple ingredients (spaghetti, olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes), it comes together in 20 minutes, and it is always such a winner.
Guys, have you made spaghetti aglio e olio before?
Barclay and I saw this classic dish on menus everywhere during our trip to Rome and Naples a few years ago, and have enjoyed perfecting our version of it at home ever since. It’s ultra-easy to make with just four ingredients — garlic (aglio), olive oil (olio), spaghetti, and a hint of red chile peppers. But while Italians typically use chopped fresh red chiles (peperoncini) in this dish, fresh red chile peppers can be a bit harder to find here in Spain and elsewhere around the world. So we typically just use a generous pinch of crushed red chili flakes from our pantry.
That said, I learned on our trip to Italy that I had actually been making this dish wrong in years past, when I used to just toss spaghetti in the garlicky oil once it had finished cooking. The key to creating a gorgeous, glossy, non-greasy sauce is to create an emulsion with the garlicky oil and that magical starchy pasta water (the key to most good pasta sauces!). All you have to do transfer the pasta and a half-ish cup of that hot starchy pasta water directly into the pan of garlicky oil one minute before the pasta is done cooking. Then while you toss the pasta, all of that heat and starch will help the garlic oil emulsify into a beautiful glossy sauce, while the pasta soaks up some extra garlicky flavors as it finishes cooking.
It’s a simple tweak that’s guaranteed to kick your aglio e olio up a delicious notch, and it could not be easier. So grab some garlic and olive oil, and let’s make this classic pasta dish together!