Spaghetti Aglio e olio is a traditional Italian pasta dish that easily comes together with very minimal ingredients. Simply put, it is pasta in olive oil but the garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil makes this dish outstanding! This Italian pasta with pine nuts, red chilli flakes, and freshly chopped parsley leaves does not need any other accompaniments.
This is super easy to make with just a few ingredients — garlic (Aglio), olive oil (olio), pine nuts, chilli flakes, parsley and spaghetti and of course salt 😉. You can make this for lunch or dinner in less than 30 minutes using just a handful of ingredients. While I learnt that pine nuts are not traditional, the roasted pine nuts add another dimension to the taste and texture that you will love! Trust me!
I first came across Spaghetti Aglio e Olio in my search for recipes using Pine nuts back in 2016 but it did not fascinate me or I feared wasting my precious pine nuts and olive oil. After a few years, I was looking for recipes using spaghetti and saw Spaghetti Aglio e Olio on Laura in the Kitchen and immediately made it for our brunch along with fried halloumi and egg as a backup. I was not sure if F would like it considering there are hardly any ingredients in it. But guess what? we fell in love with it and realized time and again that simple food is flavourful! 😋
As a food blogger, it is my responsibility to make sure I am doing a recipe outside my culture in a way that truly respects the people who grew up in that culture. My intention to share a recipe on this blog is to make the dish popular among my audience while keeping the originality intact like I did for Horaa Osbao. So I really hope Spaghetti Aglio e Olio wins your heart like it did ours! 😊
Like many things, I got introduced to Pine nuts after I began this food blog and used it first in my Qamar al-din drink. I went on to use them in rice and meat dishes, ice cream and the recent reader's favourite, Fatteh Hummus. But my most favourite dish that shares a similar simplicity as Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is bedouin lamb rice. In fact, these recipes are proof that pine nuts work great both in sweet and savoury notes. 😋Enough of pine nuts, let's talk about Spaghetti Aglio e Olio!
- spaghetti: I am sure you can use any type of spaghetti. As you can see here, I have tried with both angel hair and the no5.
- extra virgin olive oil: with simple dishes, it is imperative you use the best quality ingredients for the flavour to come through. You may use a good quality olive oil if you don't have extra virgin olive oil.
- garlic cloves: Try using un-sprouted ones.
- chilli flakes: any hot pepper flakes that you have will work or you may skip this if you are not a fan of it.
- pine nuts: optional but HIGHLY recommended.
- parsley leaves: Fresh and lots of it.
- salt and water to boil the pasta: need I say anything?
How to make
- Boil and drain the spaghetti pasta as per packet instruction.
- Prepare the garlic olive oil sauce while the pasta is boiling
- Toss the pasta in the prepared sauce and parsley leaves
- Serve immediately
Boiling the spaghetti
It is best to follow the pack instructions to boil any kind of pasta. But sometimes you may forget to keep a track of the time or would not know when to drain. You may try and eat a piece of pasta to know if it is cooked through. But the one trick I find is helpful in such situation is to fish out one strand of spaghetti and cut it. If you find a thick white dot in the center, it means it is needs to continue to boil. A fully cooked spaghetti will not have a visible white dot.
Garlic Olive Oil Sauce
The crucial step for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is preparing the sauce. Toasting the garlic in olive oil is the ONE crucial step to make this pasta dish perfect. If you toast the garlic for less time, then you have raw garlic taste. If you toast it for too long, then you have burnt garlic sauce.
In order to infuse the olive oil with the garlic flavours, we start the process with room temperature oil and pan. Do not go by the usual cooking method of heating the pan and the oil and then add ingredients. For Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, we start with cold oil on a cold pan. The thinly sliced garlic should be added to the room temp olive oil in a room temp pan. Cook on low flame until the garlic slices start to change colour.
Now, add the chilli flakes and pine nuts and continue to cook until all turn golden brown. Switch off and either pour over the drained pasta or add the pasta to the sauce along with parsley leaves. Toss to coat each strand and serve immediately!
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
For boiling pasta
- 200 grams spaghetti
- 8 to 10 cups water or as per pack instructions
For garlic olive oil sauce
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves sliced thinly
- ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 to 2 tablespoon pine nuts optional
- 2 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper optional
- Freshly grated parmesan optional
- toasted breadcrumbs optional
Boil the Spaghetti
- Boil and drain the spaghetti as per packet instructions. You may have to boil a large pot of water and some salt. Then add the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to package instructions. Meanwhile, start the work on the sauce.
Prepare the garlic olive oil sauce
- Do not heat the pan or oil. Take a shallow skillet and add the olive oil and the sliced garlic. Now place this on the stove and turn the heat on low.
- Cook on low heat until the garlic starts to change colour to light golden.
- Now, add the chilli flakes and the pine nuts and continue to cook until garlic slices and the nuts turn golden brown.
Plate and serve
- Drain your Spaghetti pasta and put it back into the same pot or you may add it directly to the prepared sauce.
- Pour in the prepared garlic olive oil sauce and add the chopped parsley.
- Use a wooden spatula to carefully stir and toss everything together so that the oil coats every strand of pasta.
- Divide into two bowls and garnish it with some freshly ground black pepper or grate some parmesan over the top before serving.