Pasta Recipe: Aglio e Olio (e peperoncino)

Save money, cook at home. Is there anything better than an Italian pasta dish for a first course? Rhetorical question, requires only a rhetorical answer. This is the way Nonna used to make it, just garlic parsely and hot pepper. And olive oil of course.   It is said frequently said that Aglio e Olio e Peperoncino is the one dish that Italian men know how to make.  Given its Roman origins, this is certainly the one dish that most Romans know well.  And many of them, being purists, might blanch in culinary horror at the addition of parsley.   Well, no matter.

The total cost of this dish is a fraction of the $9.99 you’ll pay in a run-of-the-mill Italian restaurant for a single pasta entree’. That is, if you could actually find a dish like this at your local Olive Garden. It’s a peasant dish, a product of la cucina povera, the poor kitchen. And it will easily feed 4 hungry mouths, all for about $4.00.

Aglio e Olio

Ingredients: garlic/olive oil/parsley/hot pepper flakes/parmesan cheese.
Mince up some garlic, 7 or 8 fat cloves, less or more depending on taste.
Finely chop the parsley, about a handful.
Get about a teaspoon (more or less depending on your taste) of hot pepper flakes.
Set a pot of salted water to boil.
Heat up the olive oil, about a 1/4 cup, enough to cover the bottom of a skillet to 1/4″ inch or so.
Toss in the garlic when the oil is good and hot, but not smoking.

Note: If you don’t have a lot of practice juggling the tasks of draining the past and watching garlic cook, suggest you get the pasta done first (garlic can burn up pretty quick). Let the pasta become al dente, still firm to the bite, drain it and put back in the pot, along with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking. Cover it and set aside.

Let the garlic cook to a nice golden color, turn the heat off, throw in the parsely, stir and add the pepper flakes, or chopped fresh chillies from your garden.

Toss it all in the pasta pot, and serve with lots and lots of parmesan cheese.

You can salt to taste, but remember that the salted pasta water and the parmesan cheese are plenty salty enough.

Made best with spaghetti, tagliatelle, bucatini, or butterflies. Avoid penne, radiators or fusilli, as the garlic and hot pepper may bunch up in the hollow recess of the pasta shape and deliver a “very” intense bite of flavor/heat.

This recipe works well on campouts, even over a campfire. Bring along a jar of minced garlic if you wish to save the chore of chopping garlic. If you happen to find some wild garlic, use that too.

DO NOT use any kind of garlic salt or dried parsley flakes. It is a sin and you’ll go straight to hell.

Please feel free to leave a comment, and definitely let me know if you’ve tried this and how it turned out.

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