Sometimes the best recipes are also the simplest. This is one of those instances. Pasta all’olio, aglio e peperoncino (pasta with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper) is an Italian staple that isn’t chic enough for most restaurants but it’s a common comfort food in Italian homes.
To make this authentic pasta dish you’ll need just five ingredients that you probably already have on hand:
- Pasta (spaghetti is the preferred shape for this dish, but I use whatever suits my fancy that day)
- Minced garlic, the number of cloves used depends on how much you like garlic (we love garlic and usually use one clove per person)
- EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- Crushed red pepper flakes
As with most Italian recipes, there are no measurements as everything is to taste. Eyeball it!
- Bring the water for the pasta to a boil on the stovetop. Once it’s boiling, salt the water and add the pasta.
- Cook the pasta for the number of minutes indicated on its package for al dente.
- Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a frying pan with a thin layer of EVOO. Place the pan on low heat on the stovetop and add the minced garlic. Stir the garlic while the oil is bubbly. Turn off the heat just before the garlic browns (if you accidentally brown the garlic it’s not the end of the world, but it will make the garlic a bit crunchy). Add the red pepper flakes (obviously the more you use the spicier it will be!) and salt to the oil mixture and stir well.
- Strain the pasta and then add it directly to the frying pan with the oil mixture. Return the pan to low heat. Stir to coat all of the pasta (you can add more EVOO at this point, if needed).
- Taste test to make sure it has been salted quanto basta (enough). Dish up and serve.
Pasta purists wouldn’t add grated parmesan to this dish as the cheese tames the kick of the crushed red pepper. But my husband (who is 100% Italian) piles the parmigiano on this dish, too.