pasta aglio e olio on a plate, more in the background

AGLIO E OLIO RECIPE

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A classic Italian favourite – Pasta Aglio e Olio is simplicity at its finest! This delicious pasta dish is so easy to whip together and makes the perfect quick meal on busy weeknights.

Oh, well, hey there! Thanks for stopping by for a quick Italian lesson today. I love letting the Italian in me shine through my cooking and especially here on this blog! While I’m no stranger to cooking different cuisines and types of food from all over the world (did I mention that I’m a big time traveller?!), there is, of course, always room in my heart and most definitely in my kitchen for my Italian roots.

It just fills me up with a sense of pride when I get to share with the internet the exact food and recipes I grew up eating. And what’s better? This little section of tried and true family recipes on my blog is my very own personal time capsule that, after the passing of my grandparents, I’m very very thankful for.

spaghetti aglio e olio on a plate, more in the background

Pasta aglio e olio goes back generations and for good reason, it stood the test of time. I know my family ain’t the only ones who love it! IMHO, if you can have a busy work day or one that gets you so tired you can barely even think of what to put on the dinner table but can still whip up a delicious tasting masterpiece in no time at all, you just unlocked a new level of badassery.

Your new found superpower, being able to turn a handful of basic ingredients into a dish that tastes like it came straight from a fancy Italian restaurant, is now one you can always rely on with this quick and easy aglio e olio recipe. Your family and your tastebuds will thank you!

So, whether you’ve had a crazy day at work or you’re just too tired to fuss over dinner, aglio e olio has your back (it’s had mine many times!). It’s quick, it’s easy, and most importantly, it’s dang delicious!

INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE PASTA AGLIO E OLIO 

ingredients for aglio e olio - olive oil, garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese, spaghetti, salt, pepper
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

The simplest ingredients come together to create a flavourful pasta dish that really cannot be any easier to make! However, make sure you use good quality and fresh ingredients all the way around as it will really make a difference in your final dish. Let’s discuss the exact ingredients you’ll need in a little bit more detail down below:

  • Spaghetti: Simple as can be, spaghetti is traditional for pasta aglio e olio. However, you can certainly use a different kind of pasta if you prefer or based on what you have available. Some alternative pasta options that work well with this dish include linguine, fettuccine, penne, or farfalle (bowtie pasta).

  • Garlic: Adds a pungent, savoury flavour to the dish. In pasta aglio e olio, thin slices of garlic are sautéed in olive oil to infuse the oil with its delicious garlicky flavour. Therefore, when making aglio e olio, fresh garlic works best and there really is no good substitute.

  • Olive Oil: Adds a rich flavour and aroma to this classic Italian pasta dish. It’s a key ingredient in pasta aglio e olio. It’s used to sauté the garlic and coat the pasta, imparting its distinctive fruity flavour. Therefore, as always, good quality and extra virgin works best in this recipe.

  • Red Pepper Flakes (Chili Flakes): Add flavour, heat, and a subtle spiciness to this dish. Use more or less depending on how spicy you want the agilo e olio to be.

  • Salt: Essential to enhance the overall flavour of the dish. It also helps to balance the flavours of the other ingredients in pasta aglio e olio.

  • Black Pepper: Adds a pungent, spicy flavour to the dish. I prefer freshly ground black pepper for its more vibrant flavour and aroma. It’s purpose is to season the pasta and enhance the overall flavour profile of the dish.

  • Parsley: Adds a herby, grassy flavour and a slightly peppery taste. Chopped fresh parsley adds brightness and freshness to pasta agile e olio.

  • Parmesan Cheese: A hard, aged cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a nutty, salty flavour and a granular texture. In pasta aglio e olio, grated Parmesan cheese is used both as an ingredient in the sauce to add richness and depth of flavour and as a garnish on top of the finished dish for added flavour and texture.
spaghetti with parmesan cheese and parsley piled high on a plate

HOW TO MAKE AGLIO E OLIO (KEY TIPS)

forkful of spaghetti with garlic and parsley over a plate with the rest

You can find full instructions for how to make this classic recipe for aglio e olio in the recipe card down below. But here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t overcook the pasta. It’s important to cook the pasta just until it’s al dente, meaning it’s cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and won’t hold the sauce as well.

  • Use plenty of salt. Don’t be shy! Be generous with salt when cooking the pasta water. Salting the water adds flavour to the pasta itself and helps enhance the overall taste of the dish. The water should taste like seawater.

  • Don’t rush the garlic. Take your time when sautéing the garlic in the olive oil. You want to cook it over medium heat until it’s fragrant and just starting to turn golden brown. Be careful not to burn it, as burnt garlic can impart a bitter taste to the dish.

    EXTRA TIP: Control the heat! Adjust the heat as needed while cooking the garlic and oil. If the garlic is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to prevent it from burning. You want to infuse the oil with the garlic’s flavour without overcooking it. Keep stirring.

  • Save some pasta water. Before draining the cooked pasta, reserve some of the pasta cooking water. You can use the starchy water to adjust the consistency of the sauce and help it adhere better to the pasta. EXTRA TIP: Add it in, a bit at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.

  • Coat the pasta evenly. Once you add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the garlic and oil, toss it well to ensure that each strand of pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. If the pasta seems too dry, add a splash of the reserved pasta cooking water to loosen it up.

  • Season to taste. Taste the dish before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add more salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes according to your preferences. EXTRA TIP: Garnish with fresh herbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese over the finished dish for added flavour and freshness. The parsley adds a pop of colour, while the Parmesan cheese contributes a savoury richness to the pasta.
spaghetti with parmesan cheese and parsley piled high on a plate, another plate with more in the background
FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE AGLIO E OLIO?

You pronouce “Aglio” as “AH-lyoh,” with the stress on the first syllable. The “g” is soft, similar to the “g” in the English word “gel.” The “lio” sounds like “lyoh,” with the “i” pronounced as a long “ee” sound. You pronounce the “E” as “eh,” similar to the “e” in the English word “bed.” “Olio” is pronounced as “OH-lyoh,” with the stress on the first syllable. The “o” sounds like the “o” in the English word “sole,” and the “lio” is pronounced the same as in “Aglio.”

So, when saying “Aglio e Olio” together, it sounds like “AH-lyoh eh OH-lyoh,” with a slight pause between “Aglio” and “e,” and another between “e” and “Olio.”

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF AGLIO E OLIO?

“Aglio e Olio” is an Italian phrase that translates to “garlic and oil” in English. In the context of cooking, it refers to a simple pasta dish made with garlic, olive oil and typically red pepper flakes. Several people enjoy this classic Italian dish for its simplicity and the way it allows the flavours of the garlic and olive oil to shine. It’s a staple of Italian cuisine and many people love it for its deliciously light yet flavourful sauce.

WHAT IS AGLIO SAUCE MADE OF?

Aglio sauce, commonly known as “aglio e olio” sauce, is a simple yet flavourful Italian sauce primarily consisting of garlic and olive oil. This classic sauce is a staple of Italian cuisine and has a light yet aromatic flavour profile.

To make aglio sauce, thinly sliced garlic cloves are gently sautéed in extra virgin olive oil until they become golden and fragrant. You can add red pepper flakes for a subtle kick of heat. The sauce is then typically tossed with cooked pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine, and sometimes garnished with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese for added flavour and texture.

Despite its simplicity, aglio sauce is incredibly versatile and you can easily customize it with additional ingredients according to personal preference, making it a prime choice for pasta lovers around the world.

HOW CAN I MAKE MY AGLIO OLIO TASTE BETTER?

To enhance the flavour of your aglio e olio and make it even more delicious, there are several simple tweaks and additions you can incorporate into the recipe. First, consider using high-quality ingredients, such as fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil, as they will impart the best flavour to the dish. Experiment with different varieties of olive oil to find one with a flavour profile you enjoy as it really shines through in this dish.

Additionally, you can infuse the oil with other aromatics, such as anchovies, dried herbs like basil, oregano or Italian seasoning, Calabrian chilies, or even lemon zest, to add depth and complexity to the sauce. Some cooks also like to incorporate a splash of white wine or chicken broth for extra flavour. Or, do how my mama does, and add some homemade sun-dried tomatoes to the mix! Whatever you do, don’t forget to season the dish generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper to enhance the overall taste.

Finally, garnishing the finished dish with fresh herbs like parsley, basil, or chives, along with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano, can provide a burst of freshness and umami flavour. By incorporating these tips and adjustments, you can elevate the flavour of your aglio e olio and create a truly memorable pasta dish.

HOW LONG CAN AGLIO OLIO LAST IN FRIDGE?

Pasta aglio e olio can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-5 days when properly cooled and transferred to an airtight container. To maintain its flavour and texture, refrigerate the pasta within two hours of cooking.

When ready to enjoy, reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a bit of olive oil if necessary to refresh its signature garlic and oil coating. For best results, consume within a few days to enjoy the dish at its peak flavour and quality.

side view of spaghetti on a plate with parsley, parmesan and chili flakes

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pasta aglio e olio on a plate, more in the background

PASTA AGLIO E OLIO

Yield: 3 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

A classic Italian favourite - Pasta Aglio e Olio is simplicity at its finest! This delicious pasta dish is so easy to whip together and makes the perfect quick meal on busy weeknights.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Spaghetti
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp - 1 tbsp Chili Flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated, plus more for serving

Instructions

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and set aside.
    bowl of cooked spaghetti pasta
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic slices. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
    sliced garlic in olive oil in a wok
    sliced garlic simmering in olive oil in a wok
  3. Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet with the garlic and oil. Toss well to coat the pasta evenly with the oil mixture. If the pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. eason the pasta with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Serve immediately, garnished with extra grated Parmesan cheese on top and as a side for individuals to add more to their liking.
    spaghetti in a wok with piles of fresh chopped parsley, chili flakes and grated parmesan cheese
    spaghetti in a wok with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 634Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 414mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 14g

Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.

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