December simple pasta – Aglio e Olio

I love pasta. You love pasta. And this dish is as easy as it gets. After a hard day, when you are too tired to even think about fixing dinner, this is what you whip up.

At a mere handful of ingredients, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a big bowl of comfort food that is simple and quick to prepare.

The hardest part, perhaps, is waiting for the salted pasta water to come up to a boil!

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Made with the pasta of your choice; spaghetti, linguini, etc… sauteed garlic, olive oil, crushed hot red pepper flakes, and chopped Italian parsley. Add your own discretionary amount (1 cup give or take) of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese – which can be sprinkled on the top and mixed in to add a creamier texture.


Bring 3-4L of water to a boil over high heat in your favourite pasta pot.
Add a generous amount of salt to pot. “As salty as the sea!”
Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Cook your pasta according to package instructions.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil [5 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon of butter (optional)] in your favourite pan over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, watching carefully so the garlic doesn’t burn. Once the garlic is softened, remove from heat and add red chili pepper flakes.

Reserve or capture 1 1/2 cups of pasta water. This water is salty and starchy and adds flavor to the sauce.

Once pasta is cooked, drain, and then toss into garlic and olive oil mixture. Add reserved pasta water.
Toss with parsley and most of your freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Salt according to taste. If you like it hot, add a touch more red pepper flakes. Garnish with remaining Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve with a big glass of red wine and some of my sourdough focaccia

Colin is a Victoria area resident and long time food guy, drinker of coffee, mixer of cocktails, baker of treats. He has written stuff since the early 1990’s.