5 Ingredients or Fewer

Pasta Aglio Olio

March 16, 2016
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 as a primo, 4 as a secondo
Author Notes

My desert island dish. —Sara Jenkins

What You'll Need
  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti, linguine, vermicelli, or other long thin pasta
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 plump garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small dried hot red chili, crumbled, or hot red pepper flakes to taste
  • 3/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente—linguine will take 10 to 12 minutes, thinner pasta a little less.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil over medium-low heat in a saucepan large enough to hold all the pasta. Add garlic to the oil and cook very gently, just until the garlic softens and starts to turn golden—do not let it brown. Add chili and optional parsley, along with a ladleful of starchy pasta cooking water. Turn the heat up a notch and let the sauce simmer vigorously for about 5 minutes. When the pasta is almost done, drain in a colander and turn immediately into the pan, mixing the pasta together with its sauce. Let simmer for about a minute or two, then serve immediately with more salt and ground pepper. Parmesan, too, if you're me.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lillian A'Dju
    Lillian A'Dju
  • Элла Элен
    Элла Элен
  • SophieL
  • David Rublin 1
    David Rublin 1

5 Reviews

Lillian A. April 10, 2020
Simple and good :) I love it
HS July 16, 2019
This is almost exactly the recipe I used back in the very lean years... but it swapped the parsley for a bit of grated parmesan. It was very cheap to make (generic everything), and kept well in the fridge to pick at throughout the week (hot or cold!). Somewhere I was told to add a small can of drained, sliced mushrooms and a handful of very small florets of microwaved broccoli. A pint deli container of this was somewhat nutritious, extremely filling, and easy to keep/heat up at work. I lost the recipe along the way and haven't made it in at least 15 years, but have thought of it often. I'm so happy to find this!
Элла Э. March 24, 2017
it's possible also to make aglio olio college-style, in one pot. to do so, you drain the pasta one minute before it's al dente, leaving the pasta and a few tablespoons of pasta water in the pot. then add olive oil, garlic crushed with a garlic press, some oregano or parsley (dried is ok) and dried chili or piment d'espelette (better). put it back on the stove (high heat) and mix vigorously with the fork until the sauce slightly evaporates and emulsifies, covering the pasta, the garlic bits are kind of oil-poached and the spices well distributed - about one to two minutes. the sauce is half oil, so it will be extremely hot, beware. of course, I'm not insisting that it's the right way - using separate pans for pasta and sauce is way more professional :))
SophieL November 29, 2016
Easy-peasy dish that's so good. An Italian friend taught me this dish and he adds anchovies (which dissolve easily) with the garlic and capers (drained). This really takes it to the next level.
David R. April 4, 2016
I've been looking for something new to use parsley in... It's growing like crazy at my house right now. (it's even coming up in the lawn)