Spaghetti aglio e olio is a traditional pasta dish from the villages of Naples, Italy, a dish cooked with very, very few ingredients. Here, spaghetti is cooked with garlic and salt, in olive oil, each one of these ingredients more or less always available in the Italian countryside. Apparently, the villagers would cook this dish when the times were hard, when there would be nothing much to cook with but when one still wanted to eat a hearty meal.
Though traditionally spaghetti aglio e olio would be cooked with just these four ingredients, sometimes other things would be added in too, as and when available, to enhance the flavour of the dish. Sometimes a twist of dried herbs or some chilli flakes would go in, sometimes a rind of Pecorino or Parmesan cheese. Modern-day restaurant versions of this dish include ingredients like olives, sun-dried tomatoes and parsley. The dish has, indeed, travelled a long way – from the war- and poverty-stricken villages of Italy to the posh restaurants of India.
The husband and I love spaghetti aglio e olio, and I make it often for dinner, whenever we are in the mood for some Italian. I usually make it with some olives, sun-dried tomatoes, chilli flakes and dried herbs, which makes it aglio olio e peperoncino, as the Internet tells me.
Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino – or burnt garlic spaghetti, if I may call it that – isn’t a tough thing to make. If you have but a few ingredients in your pantry, you can make it, in a matter of minutes.
Let’s check out the recipe, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 125 grams spaghetti
- Salt, to taste
- 7-8 big garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of olive oil (I used sun-dried tomatoes-infused olive oil)
- 2 teaspoons chilli flakes, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons oregano, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped preserved sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons pitted and sliced olives
- Place the spaghetti in a wide pan, and add just enough water to cover it. Add in a bit of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook on high flame till the water boils, and then lower flame to medium. Cook till the pasta is done, but not overly mushy.
- Immediately, transfer the cooked spaghetti to a colander. Run cold water over it. Place aside, and let all the water drain out.
- Meanwhile, peel the garlic cloves and chop them very finely.
- Take the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chopped garlic and place on medium flame. Stirring intermittently, saute till the garlic turns brown, taking care not to burn it too much.
- Add in the washed and drained spaghetti, salt to taste, chilli flakes, olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and oregano. Mix well.
- Gently stirring on an intermittent basis, let the spaghetti warm up in the pan. Ensure that it doesn’t get burnt. When it is warm enough, transfer the spaghetti to serving plates and serve immediately.
- Mixed Italian herbs can be added in place of oregano.
- Increase or decrease the quantity of chilli flakes you use, depending upon how spicy you want the spaghetti to be.
- Vary the quantity of garlic, olive oil and oregano you use, depending upon individual taste preferences.
- I used sun-dried tomato-infused olive oil to make this dish. You can use plain olive oil instead, too.
- Traditionally, aglio olio e peperoncino is made using just a few ingredients – spaghetti, olive oil, salt, chilli and garlic and, maybe, a few dried herbs. I added in the sun-dried tomatoes and olives for extra flavour – you can omit them if you like.
- You could add in grated cheese (preferably Parmesan) for added flavour. I didn’t use any.
You like? I hope you will try out this spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino aka burnt garlic spaghetti, and that you will love it as much as we do!