For something that's as simple to make as spaghetti aglio e elio, it's pretty incredible just how good it tastes! Aglio e olio means garlic and olive oil in Italian, and those are the two superstar ingredients of this dish. There are all kinds of variations for this recipe, including many with parsley, cheese, and red pepper flakes. My recipe includes those as well as some red onion for a truly delicious (and very easy) dinner. This is a pasta recipe you'll come back to time and time again!
I'm all for spending time on a more involved pasta recipe. I'll happily stand at the stove and stir a roux for as long as it takes to be perfect. But one of the best things about aglio e olio (on top of how delicious it is), is just how simply and quick it is. It's one of those basic dinner recipes that has everything you could ever want!
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Here's all you need!
- Extra virgin olive oil (since this is one of the stars of the dish, try to find a really good quality extra virgin olive oil for aglio e olio)
- Red onion
- Red pepper flakes
- Fresh parsley
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese (traditional recipes don't call for cheese...but this is me we're talking about. Of course I add cheese!)
- Reserved pasta water
- Please read the whole recipe before you start making this dish–I want it to turn out amazing for you!
- Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Do NOT use pre-shredded parmesan, fresh grated only (Haha, I am very passionate about this...Here's why)
- Be very careful not to let the garlic burn! You want the garlic to be soft and fragrant and the red onion to be virtually translucent, but none of it should be burned. I cook it on LOW for about ten minutes while the pasta cooks)
- Make sure to reserve about a cup of the pasta water before you drain it. This helps create more of a "sauce" with the cheese that you add.
- Feel free to add more red pepper flakes if you want more of a kick to the recipe
Why is my garlic tasteless?
Since this recipe calls for a lot of garlic, this is an important question to cover.
Garlic is a delicious, pungent bulb that can add flavor to many dishes. However, if your garlic tastes bland or like nothing at all, there could be several reasons why.
One possibility is that your garlic is old. Garlic typically has a shelf life of around three months, so if it's been sitting in your pantry for awhile, it may have lost its flavor.
Another possibility is that your garlic was not stored properly. Garlic should be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. If it's been stored in a humid environment or near other strong-smelling foods, its flavor may have been compromised.
Finally, the way you're cooking your garlic may be to blame. Garlic can be roasted, boiled, fried, or used in many other recipes. If you're not cooking it properly, its flavor may not be coming through.
No matter the reason, if your garlic tastes bland, there are ways to improve its flavor. One simple solution is to add salt. Garlic is a great addition to dishes that need a bit of salty flavor. These additions can help bring out the natural flavor of garlic which is so important in Aglio e Olio!
This is probably my dad's favorite pasta recipe in the world! Every time I make it that's what he says, anyway. And it's definitely one of my favorites too. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- 8 oz dry spaghetti
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
- ¼ cup red onion diced
- 4-6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2-3 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped, plus more for topping
- ¾ cup parmesan grated, plus more for topping
- ¼ cup reserved pasta water
- Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of heavily salted water until al dente.
- At the same time you start cooking the pasta, add the olive oil, sliced garlic, and diced red onion to a large pan. Turn the heat to low. Let cook for about ten minutes while the pasta cooks. Stir occasionally, being very careful not to let the garlic burn. You want the garlic and onion to be soft and fragrant, but not dark brown or burned.
- Once the spaghetti is al dente, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water (you likely won't use all of this but you want to have more on hand just in case). Then drain the pasta.Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the olive oil, garlic, and red onion. Add the chopped parsley, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup pasta water. Mix. Add the parmesan and mix and toss well in the pan. Add more reserved pasta water if needed.
- Serve with more parsley and parmesan on top if desired. Enjoy!
Looking for other easy pasta recipes to try next? I got you.
- THE ULTIMATE SMOKY & SPICY VODKA SAUCE FOR PASTA
- EASY ASIAGO AND BROCCOLI SHELLS PASTA
- SUPER EASY CHEESY TORTELLINI BAKE
Until next time,