How To Make Pasta: Tips To Make The Perfect Spaghetti Aglio Olio

Like pizza, Italy’s pasta has also travelled across the world to emerge as one of the most widely consumed foods of all times. The sheer range of pasta makes it easy for us to never get bored. From penne to fusili, gnochi to tortiglione, the variety is endless, and one of our all-time beloved pasta varieties is the spaghetti, and for some reason, whenever we think of spaghetti, we cannot think beyond the classic Spaghetti Aglio Olio. In Italian, Spaghetti Aglio Olio simply means Spaghetti in garlic and oil, and those are the two key players of the dish. Simple, effortless but piquant enough to hit the right notes. Spaghetti Aglio Olio reminds us why we do not always need a shelf full of ingredients to create magic in the kitchen.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio hails from Naples. The Neapolitan dish is widely acclaimed for its simplicity and making use of inexpensive ingredients with longer shelf life. The pasta dish is made by lightly sauteeing thinly sliced garlic in olive oil. In places where red pepper is added to the pasta, the dish becomes spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino. Once the oil and garlic are nicely sauteed, they are tossed with spaghetti that has been boiled in salted water. After this, you add fresh herbs and cheese to spruce things up. Usual suspects are finely chopped parsley, or grated parmesan or pecorino cheese. Cheese is of course optional, but we like how it brings the dish together, in addition to adding the lovely creamy quality to the dish.  

Sounds easy? Well, there are many ways in which you can wreck this too. Take note of these points and make perfect spaghetti Aglio olio each time.  

  1. Use the best quality olive oil, and do not be stingy with garlic. It gives your pasta the right amount of rich sharpness, a nutty flavourful accent, because of which you can skip the hustle of making sauce.  
  2. If you need more kick, it is advisable to add the red pepper flakes but do not add too much. For two plates, ¼ teaspoon should be sufficient.
  3. Boil the pasta in saltwater and not regular water. Boil only until the pasta is al dente, i.e. soft enough to take a bite, and then take it off the heat. Do not let the pasta turn mushy. Drain it, and reserve the starch water. If you think just garlic and olive oil are too dry a combination, you can add water to the pan to make a thin sauce.  
  4. Ensure you take thin slices of garlic to fry. Very thick pieces would take time to cook and not infuse your pasta with the garlicky goodness you are looking for. Cook until the garlic is just about fragrant and is lightly browned around the edges.  
  5. Stir the pasta with garlic, olive oil and herbs, gently. Do not wrestle with your pasta, unless you want broken spaghetti strands. You can use tongs to mix them more efficiently.