Garlic lovers and pasta lovers rejoice! Your recipe has arrived. This Aglio Olio e Peperoncino pairs pasta with garlic cooked until just golden, rich olive oil, fresh basil and spicy Calabrian chili peppers.
Coming together in under 20 minutes with mainly pantry ingredients, this dish is fantastic for a weeknight when you're tired or a weekend when you want to treat yourself and your loved ones with minimal effort.
I have been eating variations of this dish my whole life. I think it likely fostered some of my earliest love for garlic (a love that has only grown with time). I hope my dish brings you those same fond feelings of garlicky, pasta-y comfort.
What You'll Need
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- Dry Pasta I used spaghetti here, which was great. A linguine, bucatini, fettuccine or even a capellini would work in its place.
- Fresh Garlic I really recommend using fresh garlic that you peel and slice yourself as opposed to anything from a jar. There are so few ingredients in this dish that you'll notice the difference.
- Olive Oil The highest quality extra virgin olive oil that works within your budget is perfect for this dish. You will definitely taste the difference. However, if something super high quality is not in the cards, this will by all means still be an incredibly delicious dish.
- Calabrian Chili Peppers You can generally find jars of these in the ethnic foods aisle of your local grocery store. You can also purchase them online here. If you cannot find them, try hot cherry peppers in their place or 1 teaspoon jarred chili flake.
- Fresh Basil If you can't find any good, fresh basil, I would omit it rather than use dried basil.
- Kosher Salt This 3-pack lasts me a very long time.
- Parmesan Cheese if desired. My boyfriend is a parmesan cheese obsessive and will add copious amounts to just about everything. I think it's quite delicious with or without the cheese.
How to Make
Step One Cook your spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water.
Step Two Meanwhile, place two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Once just shimmering, add the garlic, chilis, and a pinch of salt.
Step Three While the pasta is cooking, keep an eye on the garlic and chilis, stirring occasionally. The garlic is ready when it is softened and light golden brown but not crisp or burned.
Step Four When the pasta is cooked, add about ¼ cup of the pasta water to the pan with the garlic, oil and chilis. Stir to emulsify. Add in the pasta and remaining olive oil and continue to stir.
Step Five Add the basil and stir together, ensuring the pasta is coated evenly with the sauce. Plate the pasta. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese and more fresh basil if desired.
Different Pasta You can try different varieties of pasta here: linguine, fettuccine, bucatini, even capellini. Just follow the package directions and test for doneness about 1 minute before the lesser time on the box.
Fresh Herb You can add a bit of fresh parsley in addition to or in place of the basil. I would use less parsley if replacing the basil completely.
Traditional Remove the Calabrian chilis altogether if you would like a traditional Aglio e Olio.
Different Peppers If you can't find Calabrian chilis, use crushed red pepper flake instead.
Get creative and add a protein of your choosing. I like my Italian Chicken Cutlets with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Aglio e olio means garlic and oil. Peperoncino means chili pepper. This is a riff on a traditional pasta with garlic cooked in olive oil with spicy peppers - in this case, Calabrian chilis.
Yes. The chili peppers to add some spice to this dish. If you would prefer to eat the dish without this element, forego the peppers and just use pasta, garlic, oil, and pasta water.
I would not suggest making this in advance. It will be fine for leftovers if you don't mind reheated pasta, but the beauty of this dish is in the emulsified sauce and al dente pasta.
I don't recommend freezing this dish. It comes together very quickly, so I recommend making it fresh when you are ready to eat.
- Try adding a little bit of the Calabrian chili oil to your olive oil for a beautiful red color and a little added spice.
- Be sure to cook your pasta al dente. To do this, I recommend cooking for one minute less than the box directions.
- Emulsifying the olive oil and pasta water is what creates a beautiful, rich sauce - don't forget to add that pasta water and stir well!
- Slice your garlic very thin for the best results. It will impart a lot of flavor into the olive oil.
How to Store
This pasta is best eaten right when it is finished cooking for a glossy, emulsified sauce and the best texture of spaghetti. However, cooked pasta will store for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.
As I've recommended in many recipes before, you can absolutely put this in a resealable glass container and send it off to work with a loved one for lunch.
I would not recommend freezing this pasta. It comes together so quickly that I would just make it when ready to eat.
If you think you would like to make more or less of the recipe, be sure to use the serving size tool in the recipe card below. Simply click on the number next to "Servings" and you will be able to adjust up or down based on your preference.
How to Pair
If you feel like going for an even more impressive dinner, try some of these combinations:
Chicken Add Italian Chicken Cutlets and a squeeze of fresh lemon to the pasta and serve with a simple side salad.
Shrimp Simply grill or sauté shrimp for a simple and satisfying dinner.
Multi-Course Meal Try having a multi-course meal at home, with Aglio Olio e Peperoncino as your pasta course, followed by a light seafood entrée like shrimp or fish with some Roasted Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine.
Stir-Fry Want something less conventional? Try these garlicky noodles as the base of a stir-fry, like this delicious Zucchini Stir-Fry.
Bread Bread is a classic pairing with pasta. Try this delicious gluten free foccacia bread or this Korean garlic bread! Looking for something more traditional? A hunk of crusty baguette is always fantastic.
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Pasta Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, thinly slice the garlic, chop the Calabrian chilis and chiffonade (slice into thin strips) or tear the basil by hand.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium low heat. Once just shimmering, add the garlic, chilis and a pinch of salt.
- Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the box instructions (about 9 minutes is using spaghetti).
- While the pasta is cooking, keep an eye on the garlic and chilis, stirring occasionally. The garlic is ready when it is softened and light golden brown but not crisp or burned.
- When the pasta is cooked, add about ¼ cup of the pasta water to the pan with the garlic, oil and chilis. Stir to emulsify. Add in the pasta and remaining olive oil and continue to stir.
- Add the basil and stir together, ensuring the pasta is coated evenly with the sauce.
- Plate the pasta. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese and more fresh basil if desired.
- You can use hot cherry peppers in place of the Calabrian chilis in an equal amount, or use 1 teaspoon of chili flake.
- Cooked pasta will last in the fridge for 3-5 days, but I recommend eating as soon as it is prepared.
- I do not recommend preparing ahead of time or freezing.
- Feel free to adjust the serving size up or down by selecting the number next to "Servings" in the recipe card.