Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Welcome ladies and gents to the very first series on The Gourmet Dorm: ‘On Pasta’. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing ten different pasta recipes using ten different shapes of noodle. At the end of it all, I’ll be posting a ranking of my favorite pasta shapes- and you all will have lots of recipes to use to try them out! First up: spaghetti. A classic shape needs a classic recipe, so I’ve chosen to make agilo e olio- specifically the version inspired by the movie ‘Chef’.

Aglio e olio is Italian for garlic and oil, which are the two base flavors of this dish. We’ll add a few more aspects for balance- namely some spice and some acidity, as well as some parsley. We check all the boxes for salt, fat, and acid (thanks Samin Nosrat), with the garlic and olive oil providing a great base to let flavor quality and freshness shine.

This is a great pantry dish because it doesn’t take too many ingredients. On the flip side, because there aren’t that many ingredients, quality is key. Don’t go crazy, but definitely don’t cheap out. A quality bottle of olive oil will never do you wrong, and it can completely transform a dish (and, by proxy, that good dish can turn a bad night into a good one).

In addition to ingredient quality, you really want an al dente noodle. Overcooked pasta is gross. Everyone knows that. So to avoid the dreaded mushy noodle, cook your noodles for a minute less than the package instructions. They will continue cooking in the pan while we finish building our sauce, meaning that by the end of the process we will have the perfect texture that we want.

Okay crazy kids. We have all the steps to make the perfect pasta. Now let’s get to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I use more)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • Nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
  • Kosher salt and black pepper (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Set a pot of water to boil. Once boiling, heavily salt the water and cook spaghetti a minute less than package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the garlic- don’t crush the cloves. We want thin slices here. You’re welcome to use a mandoline if you’re the adventurous type. While you’re doing this, preheat your pan over medium low heat (before adding the oil).
  3. Add the oil to your pan and let it heat. You want to avoid any smoking here. Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point- medium low is key here.
  4. Once your oil is heated, add the garlic and the red pepper flakes. You want to toast these, not fry them. Stir and cook until the garlic is lightly browned and fragrant.
  5. Once pasta is cooked, add directly to the pan with tongs. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Add to the pan with the pasta and oil, tablespoon by tablespoon until you reach your desired consistency.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, lemon juice, parmesan/nutritional yeast and, if desired, pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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