Aglio olio recipe under 30 mins, made with pantry staples – spaghetti, oil, garlic and red chilli flakes. In the repertoire of traditional Italian pasta dishes, there is none as simple and straightforward as aglio e olio. Its literal translation is garlic and olive oil which is really the essence of this dish which originates in Naples. The entire ingredient list is composed of things that are easily kept on hand making it something you can turn to when you are looking for a quick, easy, and deeply satisfying, not to mention rather affordable dish.
One of the perks of this aglio olio recipe is that this entire dish can be prepared in under 30 minutes. In fact, in the time it takes you to boil water and cook the pasta, you can prep your ingredients and start the sauce.
By the time it is perfectly al dente, you are just a few minutes from pan to table. Beyond the ease of preparation, this is a classic that will appeal to kids and adults alike. It is vegetarian-friendly and adaptable to the tastes and preferences of your entire family.
I have shared the most classic of aglio e olio preparations & it is really a blank slate. Perfectly delicious as it is, it can be altered a bit to suit your family’s tastes. Finishing with chopped parsley and grated parmesan or Romano cheese takes it to the next level.
For those times when you wish to add some protein to your pasta, you can top this dish with a fried egg. Or with a runny yolk if you prefer which adds another level of richness to the sauce. I have shared a recipe with egg here – Egg Spaghetti
The options are endless, making this a perfect weeknight meal for times when you are looking for something satisfying and simple. A green salad or your favorite vegetable on the side round this meal out perfectly making just about any night of the week feel rather special.
How to Make Aglio e Olio (Stepwise photos)
Making aglio e olio traditionally begins with spaghetti. Begin by bringing a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. While you wait for this to happen, gather the finest olive oil you can find, a few cloves of chopped garlic, salt and crushed red pepper. For this step bring 8 cups of water to a boil with 1 teaspoon salt.
Add a tsp of oil too.
Once the water has begun to boil, add 2 servings of spaghetti. About 250 grams.
Let it boil on a medium high flame and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Set your timer according to the package instructions, keeping in mind you are looking for perfectly al dente pasta.
After testing for proper doneness (generally 7-9 minutes), reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water before straining.
Over low heat, gently warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. To the pan, add 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon minced chopped garlic, making sure not to allow it to take on too much color or burn. As soon as garlic begins to shrink, add 1 teaspoon chilli flakes. For spicier version use up to 1½ teaspoons chilli flakes. Give a quick stir.
To the saute pan, carefully add about half cup of stock (pasta cooked water) and ¼ teaspoon salt. Allow it to simmer.
Let it reduce slightly before adding your spaghetti. I let mine to reduce to half of the original quantity (¼ cup). Taste test both the cooked spaghetti and the sauce so you know how much to add at this stage. Add more salt if required.
Turn off and add the spaghetti. Toss well to coat the spaghetti with the garlic oil and chili flakes.
At this point, taste the pasta and adjust the seasoning if necessary according to your taste. For more heat, add chilli flakes. If it is too dry, you may splash a bit of the stock.
Serve aglio olio hot with a vegetable salad, green salad or fried eggs.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 250 grams spaghetti (or 2 servings or ½ pound)
- 1 to 1½ tablespoon garlic minced or 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (½ more for a spicier version)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil for cooking pasta
- 2 to 3 tablespoons parsley chopped (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt (¼ teaspoon for the sauce)
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Bring 8 cups of water to a rapid boil in a large pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt and oil.
- Add spaghetti and cook following the instructions on the pack. I cooked for 7 minutes.
- Drain and reserve ½ cup stock.
Making spaghetti aglio olio
- In a large pan, add oil and heat it.
- Saute garlic on a low to medium heat until it begins to shrink. Take care not to burn otherwise it will lend a bitter taste to the spaghetti.
- Add red chilli flakes and saute for 30 seconds.
- Pour the reserved stock (Pasta cooked stock) and ¼ teaspoon salt to the pan. Be careful while you do this, as the hot water may splash.
- Mix and cook until the sauce reduces to half the original quantity, about ¼ cup. Taste test the pasta and the sauce both so you know how much more salt to add at this stage. Adjust accordingly.
- Add the cooked pasta. Switch off the stove. Mix everything well. Taste test and adjust the seasoning.
- Add chopped parsley and cheese. Serve aglio olio immediately with a salad on the side.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This post on Aglio olio was first published in November 2016. Updated and republished in January 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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