Pasta Aglio e Olio
Pasta Aglio e Olio, this Italian classic recipe is the quintessential weeknight pasta dinner. Ready in less than 20 minutes with only a handful of ingredients, but simple things are always the most impressive.
Servings 4 people
- 3/4 lb capellini pasta (you can use whole wheat or durum semolina noodles)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for serving
- 1/3 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 9 large cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or 1 fresh red chili
- zest from 1 lemon (optional)
- 1.25 cups reserved pasta water (the water you cooked the pasta in)
- 1/3 cup Italian parsley roughly chopped
- 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
- salt + pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and generously season with sea salt. The water should taste like sea water.
Add the noodles and set the timer according to package directions for an "al dente" texture. Do not cook one minute longer. Reserve 2 cups of the starchy pasta water then drain the noodles in a colander.
Transfer the drained pasta to a bowl with ice water to stop the cooking process. Ideally you’ll add some ice cubes to this water. (note: If you are a pro at cooking capellini noodles and can perfectly time them to be ready at the same time with the sauce then you can skip the draining and transfer them directly into the sauce).
Make the Aglio e Olio Sauce
Preheat a large skillet over medium heat with 1/3 cup of olive oil. Stir in the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Give it a stir for a few seconds just until it starts to sizzle and its fragrance perfumes your kitchen. Take good care not to burn it, this is very important.
Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and whisk it into the oil and garlic until combined. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest until emulsified and remove from heat.
Drain the cool capellini noodles and add them to the pan with the garlic sauce together with the chopped parsley. Using a pair of kitchen tongs to carefully toss the noodles in the sauce to coat all over. Add some of the reserved pasta water if needed to stretch it out.
Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste with salt, pepper and more lemon. If your pasta water was properly salted you won’t even need to add any salt at all.
Serve promptly with fresh parsley on top, a lemon wedge, extra chili flakes and a light drizzle of olive oil.
- Garlic Sauce. The goal is to create the most luscious emulsion of garlic infused oil, starchy pasta water and freshly squeezed lemon juice. This should not be boiled pasta drenched in olive oil and garlic, trust me, it’s a huge difference.
- The Pasta. If you perfectly cooked your noodles to an al dente texture you can most definitely transfer the capellini noodles straight into the sauce. However, if you are a beginner cook and have not done this perfectly before using thin capellini or spaghetti, then i kindly suggest you drain the pasta first then transfer it to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process before coating it in the sauce.
- Do not burn the garlic! This is crucial, we aren’t looking for any color on the garlic just fragrance so keep a close eye on it and work fast.
- Salt the pasta water! I know you’ve heart it too many times before but it really is what deeply seasons your pasta and the difference between good pasta and great pasta.
- Recipe variations: load up on your favorite veggies, from sautéed mushrooms to roasted broccoli, asparagus, or marinated artichoke hearts. A nice sprinkling of crispy salty bread crumbs makes a nice topping, cheese is never traditionally used which makes this one of the ultimate vegan Italian recipes.
- Storage. This pasta is best served fresh straight out of the skillet. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge in lidded glass containers for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stove top or in the microwave adding a little splash of water if needed to loosen up the sauce.
Calories: 492kcal | Carbohydrates: 68g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 270mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 497IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg