First things first (I’m the realist…) I’m going to confess something to you – I am not Italian.
There is zero Italian found within my bloodline. And I’m married to a freckly-blonde-haired-blue-eyed German. So there’s no possible way I can even begin to scratch the surface of authentic Italian cooking.
If you ARE Italian please, please do not get angry at me for anything that is not remotely traditional in this recipe. ‘Cause ya know … White girl status and all.
With all of that out of the way … This is my favorite pasta dish of all time. My husband contests that my Chicken Parm is the best, but I’m a Marine wife. Let’s be real here. I spend an ample amount of time watching Friends reruns while my husband is away saving the universe of certain demise. Those evenings you can find me eating ice cream, Toaster Strudels, and turkey sandwiches. Ain’t nobody got the willpower to make Chicken Parmesan in the middle of a deployment.
I stumbled upon this lovely little dish in a scene from the movie Chef. As he was making it all I saw was olive oil, garlic, and pasta. Excuse me, I’ve gotta run to the store.
After a Google search I figured out what exactly he was making. It was simple ingredients that I already had on hand that I can make for lonely old me. Then force my husband to eat multiple times a month when I get a hankering. Sorry, babe. You the real MVP.
We call this, “Grown Up Buttered Noodles” in my house. Because that’s what it is. Sub the butter for olive oil and add a few more delicious ingredients and you’ve got a winner.
The dish is Pasta Aglio e Olio (according to Google, so don’t yell at me!) and it couldn’t be simpler. Its the perfect dish for a Saturday night full of movie (or Friends) watching. Best part, the leftovers taste just as good!
I try to use the best olive oil I can get within my budget (occasionally splurging) and always make sure to buy a block of Parmesan to grate instead of relying the pre-grated stuff. Don’t worry – if you don’t want to purchase any of the more expensive ingredients you can certainly use what you have. But promise me that one day you WILL try it with the higher quality stuff?
Remember how I said this was super easy to make? I’m not lying.
With only pasta, lemon juice, parsley, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and olive oil you will have one of the best, most simplistic dishes you’ve ever made.
And if you want to feed it to company – they won’t even notice how simple it was for you because the flavor is perfection!
You can add chicken if you wish, but I don’t believe that is traditional and it certainly doesn’t need it.
My toddlers – by the way – LOVE this as well.
You could substitute red pepper flakes for a pinch of black pepper, however the taste won’t be as delicious. If you aren’t a fan of the heat from red pepper don’t use the full amount and adjust it to your taste.
One of the beautiful things about cooking – if it doesn’t work for you you can make it work for you!
Hope you try and love this recipe this week!
Happy Monday, Friends!
Pasta Aglio e Olio
*serves 4-6; portions depending
1 box spaghetti; cooked al dente (do not overcook!)
1/8 cup pasta water reserved from spaghetti
1/2 c + 2 tablespoons olive oil
9-10 garlic cloves; chopped
1 bunch parsley; chopped
juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste – as you may need more or less)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste – as you MAY need more)
1) Begin by cooking spaghetti to al dente. Do not overcook. Set aside.
2) Heat olive oil on medium to high heat. (Being careful not to reach smoke point as it could burn the garlic.) Prior to adding garlic and red pepper flakes turn the heat back a bit, add in garlic and red pepper flakes and stir continuously.
3) After garlic begins to brown slightly and begins to smell fragrant, remove from heat.
4) Slowly pour in 1/8 cup of pasta water and add salt.
5) Add in 1/2 of lemon juice and continue to stir. Pour “sauce” mixture over pasta along with parsley and coat pasta well.
6) For finishing drizzle remaining lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and a little more parsley. Serve immediately.