Pasta with Garlic and Oil

An absolute classic, destined to be one of your favorites.
TIME 20 to 30 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
⅓ cup olive oil, or more as needed
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Crushed red pepper, to taste, optional
1 pound long thin pasta, like spaghetti or linguine, or any other pasta
½ cup chopped fresh parsley, optional

1 Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the oil, garlic, red pepper if you’re using it, and a pinch of salt in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the garlic just turns golden but not brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit.

2 When the water boils, cook the pasta until it is tender but not mushy; start tasting after 5 minutes. When it’s done, scoop out and reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

3 Return the sauce to medium heat and stir once in a while until it’s hot again. Add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet along with a splash of the cooking water and toss to coat, adding a little more oil or cooking water if necessary to create a slightly creamy sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt or red pepper, then toss with the parsley if you’re using it and serve.

  • Pasta with Capers, Olives, or Anchovies While the garlic is cooking in the oil, stir in 2 tablespoons capers or chopped olives or a couple of oil-packed anchovies—but not all three or the pasta will be too salty.
  • Pasta with Bread Crumbs In Step 1, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan with the garlic. When you toss the pasta for the last time before serving, add some toasted or fried fresh bread crumbs.

  • Linguine, spaghetti, or other long pastas are classic for this Roman dish, but it’s still delicious with cut pasta.
  • Don’t freak out about the amount of oil in the recipe; it will combine with the pasta water to create a simple and delicious sauce. (Plus, it’s just a bit over a tablespoon per serving.)
  • Grated cheese is not traditional in this dish and tends to dry the sauce out too much.

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