Garlic and Oil Pasta

 A Southern-Italian dish which is my favourite sides, and the Italians say Aglio e oleo (which is the literal Italian translation for “garlic” and “oil”). It is traditionally served using spaghetti, but I like to use a thin spaghetti or angel hair best.

This basic side dish can be enhanced with the addition of prosciutto and peas for a robust side dish or entrée.

Here are the basics:

  • 1 pound angel hair (or spaghetti)
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1-2 Tbsp. salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp. good olive oil
  • 6 cloves finely minced (or pressed) fresh garlic
  • 3-4 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste, for finishing

Bring water to the boil in a covered saucepan over high heat. Remove the lid, add salt (do not add oil to the water), and stir to combine. Add pasta and stir once each minute for the first couple of minutes, making sure the strands of pasta are not sticking together. Boil, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes LESS than instructed on the package direction.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add minced garlic, cooking over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes until garlic loses its raw flavor and begins to turn light brown. Do not brown garlic too much, or it will turn bitter.

Remove pasta from cooking water, using your tool of choice, and deposit the strands of pasta directly into the garlic & oil in the sauté pan. Do not drain the pasta too much, because you want about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to be incorporated to form the garlic & oil sauce and help the pasta finish cooking in the skillet. If you use a colander to drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid before draining – and do not rinse the pasta under running water.

Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the chopped parsley, salt & pepper, and grated cheese. Continue tossing the pasta to incorporate all of the ingredients well. Transfer to bowl and serve immediately.

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