Pasta con Aglio e Olio. Pasta with garlic and oil. It really can’t get much simpler. But as with many traditional Italian recipes, the secret to success lies in using only the best ingredients you can find. Along with minimal technique, you can create this wonderfully simple dish. Yet it’s a dish that packs tons of complex flavors. Read on!
1 pound pasta (Spaghetti, papparedelle, etc)
3-4 garlic cloves
2-3 salt package anchovy fillets
2-3 hot cherry peppers
3-4 Campari tomatoes 0r 10-12 Cherry tomatoes
Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Perhaps one of the best aspects of this recipe is its flexibility and adaptability. While the measurements I’ve provided above will yield a splendid dish, you can easily increase the garlic or the “heat” to your tastes. And let me get this out of the way too. I can be a pasta purist. I have written about it before (example: Carbonara) and championed tradition across my social media outlets. So…. 100% traditional Aglio e Olio will not have any tomato in it. That said, I had a few Campari tomatoes that needed using, and so it was done!
In a pan large enough to hold the finished pasta, coat the bottom of the pan liberally with oil. I estimate that I started with about 1/4 cup. Dice the garlic, anchovy and cherry peppers and add to the oil to flavor. For this rendition, I had spicy calabrian anchovies in extra virgin olive oil that I chose to use. Normally, I use salt packed fillets. Saute until fragrant.
As the pasta is cooking, add the tomatoes to the pan and continue sauteing until the pasta is al dente. By that time, the tomatoes will begin to break down. The juice of the tomatoes will prevent the garlic from browning. At this point, adjust the heat of the dish to your liking. Drain the pasta and toss with the condimento.
In this picture you can see how much oil remains in relation to the pasta. If the pasta seems “tight” you can always use a 1/4 cup of the cooking water or drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. These noodles came from the outstanding Bronx staple, Borgatti. They are a simple treat that I choose to treat simply. This was an amazing dish. Give it a try!
Finally, what did I drink? This dish calls for a bright white, or a lighter weight Sicilian rosso. You can find many good examples from these articles. Heritage: Donnafugata and Heritage: Firriato.