Garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, red chili flakes and quality pasta make up this delectable dish.
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Many years ago I was fortunate to have lived near Florence Italy and when we ventured into town for a meal we sought out places where the locals would go and eat, a local trattoria was where I first had this dish. One of my memorable past times back then was dissecting the ingredients of a dish and going home to make it. The only difference to the Aglio e Olio recipe here is the addition of capers and Italian parsley instead of basil. We had this dish the other night and we have had this wonderful pasta dish many, many times, oh, happy memories!
When I ran Victoria Park Restaurant near Toronto, I misspelled this beautiful dish on the menu. Only then did a beautiful 98 year old Italian Grandma set me straight and also came into our kitchen to show me her own twist. She said it was the only thing Italian bachelors knew how to make for themselves after a night of too much "vino". She then asked for a little red vino. I assumed it would be tossed in to the pan upon completion. She simple drank it, and told me I was "not-a-bad".
Tired after a long day of shopping and not wanting to eat out, I thought about the simple ingredients of this recipe. Served with a salad and some fresh greens beans it was a very quick to prepare and satisfying meal. Two of us had no problem polishing off all 200 grams of this tasty pasta:)
This is a wonderful example of simple and wonderful. I made this tonight and was able to use basil from my garden. Just enough heat from the garlic and chilli flakes. I paired this with a Semillon from La Frenz Winery in the Okanagan. Thanks so much for this recipe!
For an Italian it is fantastic to see that this site teaches how to properly cook pasta "al dente"! A suggestion for this dish: my mother does it without Parmesan (many Italians, indeed, don't use Parmesan and garlic together) and with parsley instead of basil. I know, it seems difficult to make a good pasta with so few ingredients... but she does! :)
Another version that I like very much is to strain the pasta half or one minute before and to complete the cooking in the pan, adding breadcrumbs.
The beauty of this dish is it's so versatile. Once you know how to combine the cooked pasta to the olive oil in a pan with enough pasta water to create that wonderful emulsion, what goes with it is really up to you. More often than not, it depends on what is in my fridge or pantry, and sometimes on what I crave. When I crave anchovies or fresh basil, well guess what, it's going in.
I have probably made this dish hundreds of times, but I've never made it like this before. I've always put the al dente pasta into a pan with just the oil (garlic, and red pepper,) tossed a bit with the heat on, then served. It is a family favorite, and indeed, my Italian friends refer to this as their "mac and cheese" dish, and yes, they ALL know how to make it.
The addition of the reserved liquid to the pan of oil is really interesting, and I'm just wondering, why is that important to do? It seems like an unnecessary step that adds a level of complexity, and it also increases the chance of over-cooking your pasta. I'm all for the step if it improves the recipe, but I just don't understand the benefits of using that method.
One key to aglio e olio is to end up with a pasta that is not too oily. Adding some pasta water to the pan, about 2 T or more per serving, creates an emulsion with the olive oil. This emulsion carries the oil better, so you don't end up with an oily plate when finished eating. You can achieve this when straining the pasta and leaving some of the cooking water on the pasta before adding to the pan - so straining lightly, not diligently; but it is best controlled by straining well and adding reserved starchy water later. The starch and seasonig of the pasta water is quite tasty, so it serves two purposes. Most moms don't do this technique, mine doesn't, but my dad likes my aglio e olio better than her's - though he'll never tell her. Ma, if you're reading this, please forgive me!
-Italians put in the water some more salt than the recipe does; therefore it is not needed to add it on the pasta after it is is cooked.
-The same is for the oil.
-Absolutely do not sprinkle basil....! At least you may use some parsley instead; and last but not least.....
-Parmesan is forbidden for this dish!!!
Thanks for all your videos.
I love your website.
I agree with Stefania's comments about the origins of this dish, and from a purist approach it is often appreciated without cheese and the simplest herb...parsley. And simplicity, meaning making a dish taste great with the most minimal but quality ingredients is what truly defines Italian cooking. However, this simplicity is difficult to execute, and it would take at few dozen cracks at it to achieve success with just oil and parsley. The fact that this simple dish can elicit as many opinions as let's say a bouillabaisse says a lot about how important technique and ingredient knowledge are to the cook, let alone an Italian cook. I'm so glad Stefania that you mention the salt issue. Getting people to put ANY salt in their pasta water, from my experience, is at least a victory in the right direction. It's small steps for now. I encourage the home cook to personalize even the classics with whatever yum you want...but the focus should always be accurate technique.
By the way, the best version of this dish I've ever had actually cooks the garlic in the pasta water, not in the oil. The pasta is cooked in the salted garlic water, drained with the garlic slices. The oil is simply heated on the side with chili flakes and poured on top....grated cheese optional. A Sicilian taught me that one. I can't resist the cheese...and fresh basil.
Sorry. The perfection in this dish is the QUALITY of the few ingredients which go into it; anyone who does not put salt in their pasta water does not belong in a kitchen; in not over cooking the pasta, making it truly al dente; final moments of cooking in a pan, just as one would cook a pasta off in it's final stage in a sauce or gravy, along with some pasta water so as not to make the dish overly oily; the oil needs to be a beautiful olive oil beacause it is featured in this dish the garlic must be lovely and fresh from a solid head; parmagiano to taste likewise, althought neither of my parents used it, with the red pepper flakes, which I like to grind just prior to eating in a ceramic grinder, which both my parents used, parsley yes, basil no and I favor basil over parsley, but my parents have the lease on the genes, I'm only 1st generation and without a claim; and the cooking of the garlic must be gentle or this dish will be bitter, bitter and nothing but bitter and you might as well not make it.
It is a great "go to" dish if unexpected guests show up. Who doesn't have oil, garlic and pasta in their pantry? Just my opinion.
In fact it is working for everyone here, is anyone else having a problem with the video stopping? If not, perhaps it may be your connection.
Let me know if it changes for you...in the mean time I will have a look into it. Thanks for the notice.
This is one of the most fantastic food combinations - so simple but so effective. So much so that in the late 1990s, I ate it continually and my waistline really paid for it! It's now a once-a-week treat.
It was interesting to see the method used here. I live with an Italian, and the ethos was the simpler the better, so it was really just garlic, chillies, and making sure it was well salted. Also the quantities of oil I used were greater (hence waistline expansion, no doubt), and the adding the cooking water after wasn't done. The most important thing, of course, is making sure the pasta is al dente. If it's overcooked, it can be too clammy and strange. Also the garlic burns easily so it has to be watched.
I should add the 'traditional' way I learned was the oil was to come up about a centimetre up the side of the pan. That was a lot of oil!
And the cheese with this dish made my Italian friends recoil. I would ask them first!
But this dish is just a classic and everyone should get to it eat once in their lifetime.
I made this a few weeks ago for my family of 7. It was great however, I realized that the amount of pasta that I used was far too much for this recipe. Can someone tell me what the american conversion of 200g is equivalent to. I know I'll need to modify the recipe based on the amount of pasta I use. However, I'm not sure how to do the conversion.
198 grams is 7 oz or .44 lb.; 1 gram is .0357 oz if you really want to get to the 200 grams. But when you use a half a pound of pasta with the oil and then add an unknown quantity of pasta water, the exact measurements become pretty irrelevant. Generally, you can find conversion magnets either on line or at a Container Store or a Bed Bath & Beyond type store. I hope this helped you somewhat.
A convertion tool may solve your question:
Convert just about anything to anything else.
Please, check "Cooking"
This one I have on my computer(Win).
"Ajo e ojo" is a stand by in our house! People love it and it's so simple--not to say easy,though, to get it right...
I'll have to try this with reserved water. Never tried it that way.
But I have to go with Stefania about salting the water heavily and the cheese and the parsley. Lived in Italy (Rome)for many years and never, but never, had this dish served with any kind of cheese (or basil). But I have to admit I never managed to get down to Sicily. I hear they do some unusual things down there, like mixing cheese and fish.
Also like to use whole peperoncino rather than red pepper flakes--find that they are easy to burn in hot oil, and they turn bitter. But pepper flakes are a lot easier to find.