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Author Notes: If I have eggs and parsley in my fridge and garlic on my counter, I consider my kitchen to be functional. Why? Because these are the fresh ingredients necessary to make pasta agli e olio. This is beautiful comfort food, full of garlicky deliciousness, good any time of year, and quick to make. There have been many times when I ate this, and this alone, for a very satisfying meal, telling myself that the generous amount of parsley counted as a serving of vegetables. When I am less delusional, I make a simple salad, a tray of roasted kale, or roasted broccolini to accompany the pasta. This is a family recipe: my mother told me that when my grandmother made it, my grandfather would always wait to take his serving last, because he could get the best bits of sauce at the bottom of the pot.
This easily scales up to serve more than two people, though once one gets beyond four, frying the eggs starts to get cumbersome. —Emily
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (more or less)
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley (or more to taste)
- 1/2 tablespoon butter (optional), plus more for cooking the eggs
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- salt and pepper
- First, get a large pot of generously salted water going on the stove. While it comes to a boil, prepare the garlic and parsley: chop the garlic cloves coarsely. If you chop the garlic too finely, it will brown and become bitter more easily. Coarsely chopped garlic will stay sweeter. Chop the parsley medium fine (chopping the parsley after the garlic will help take away the smell of garlic from your fingers).
- In a saucepan large enough to hold all the pasta, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring and watching carefully to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Feel free to scale up the amount of red pepper flakes if you want more of a kick. When you start to get a hint of color in the garlic, turn off the heat and move the pan off the heat. The garlic will continue to cook in the hot oil and you don't want it to brown.
- Hopefully at this point, the water is boiling; add your pasta. While the pasta cooks, fry the eggs over easy in either a bit of butter or a few drops of oil. Be gentle and be attentive: you want a runny yoke. After the eggs are done, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and keep covered.
- Just before the pasta is cooked al dente, reserve a half cup of pasta water; put the sauce back onto medium-low heat, and add a pat of butter and the parsley to it. The butter is optional, but will give the finished pasta and extra silkiness. Add salt and black pepper to the sauce to taste.
- Drain the pasta and add to the sauce; toss to make sure everything is coated, adding a few tablespoons or more of the reserved pasta water to keep everything saucy. Add one of the fried eggs to the pasta, break it up, and mix it in.
- Either serve the pasta with the remaining eggs on the side, or else plate the pasta, topping each serving with an egg. There is great pleasure in jabbing the egg and mixing the runny yolk into the sauce.