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Perfect Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

 February 14, 2024

“Simple” doesn’t have to be boring, and there is no recipe that exemplifies this more than the Spaghetti Aglio E Olio. Translating to “spaghetti with garlic and olive oil,” this simple, yet refined spaghetti dish is a staple in Italy, and for a good reason. My take on this recipe is the Perfect Spaghetti Aglio E Olio, made from just spaghetti noodles, heaps of fresh garlic, high-quality olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Don’t let this ingredient list fool you – this recipe is packed with flavor in each and every bite!

A bowl of the perfect spaghetti aglio e oilio, with a serving fork and spoon sitting inside of the bowl

When it comes to the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner, I am a big believer that simpler is always better. After all, Valentine’s Day is all about love, which means that you want to be able to spend more time with your loved ones and less time standing in the kitchen. Simple recipes that come together in a pinch are the perfect way to ensure that you get to spend the quality time that you desire with the people you love. And there is truly no simpler recipe than the classic Spaghetti Aglio E Olio.

Go to nearly any restaurant in Italy, and you will see this dish on the menu. While it may look simple on the surface- spaghetti cooked in olive oil and garlic- this recipe is packed with flavor! The combination of high-quality olive oil, paired with an abundance of garlic cloves and adds depth and flavor to this spaghetti. There’s a reason why it’s considered such a classic!

And, while it’s perfectly filling on its own, if you want to make it heartier, try serving it alongside my Ultimate Meatballs or my Citrus Broiled Salmon to round out the perfect Valentine’s Day meal!

What You Need to Make This Perfect Pasta Dish

  • Spaghetti: Pick your favorite spaghetti and use it in this recipe! You can use traditional spaghetti or gluten-free- both work just as well!
  • Olive Oil: The olive oil is the star of this dish, which means that you’ll want to use a high-quality oil. My favorite is by Graza!
  • Garlic: Since “Spaghetti Aglio E Olio” translates to “spaghetti with garlic and olive oil,” lots of fresh garlic is a must for this recipe! You will need twelve (yes, twelve) whole garlic cloves to make this recipe, and each and every one is absolutely worth it.
A large pot filled with pasta water, with a measuring cup scooping some of the water out of the pot. A large bowl filled with the cooked spaghetti can be seen sitting next to the pot
Next, cook the pasta according to package directions. Once it’s done, drain the water from it, being sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water for late.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: The crushed red pepper flakes add the perfect amount of heat to this dish, without making it too spicy.
  • Pasta Water: The pasta water helps to coat the pasta in the olive oil, ensuring that each bite has that delicious garlicky flavor!
  • Parmigiano Reggiano: Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano truly adds the most delicious flavor to this spaghetti, WAY better than your pre-shredded parmesan cheese. If there’s one ingredient that’s worth the splurge, it’s this one!
  • Parsley: A garnish of fresh parsley not only adds a delicious flavor to the pasta, but it also adds the perfect pop of green!

How to Make This Simple & Easy Valentine’s Day-Friendly Dinner


To make this spaghetti, start by bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Be sure to salt the water generously. Once the water is boiling, add in the spaghetti and cook it until it is just one minute shy of being al dente – this should be approximately 1-2 minutes less than what the cook time on the packaging calls for.

While the pasta is cooking, grab another pan and heat it on the stove, over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil, and, once it’s hot add in the chopped garlic cloves and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring and cooking them for about 5 minutes. Watch it very carefully, so that the garlic doesn’t burn! You can reduce the heat to low or lift the pan from the heat, as needed.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain the water from the pot, reserving about a half a cup of it. Then, use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta into the pan with the garlic and olive oil.

Add in the reserved pasta water and toss to coat well. Finally, grate the parmigiano reggiano into the pasta and add in the chopped parsley, tossing until they’re fully combined. Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Then, serve and enjoy!

Tips for Making The Perfect Pasta, Every Time

While this recipe is simple, there are a few ways to ensure that it turns out perfect, every single time!

  • Prepare the ingredients ahead of time: This recipe comes together quickly, and getting your timing right is essential. While the water is boiling, before you add in the pasta, spend time chopping all of the garlic. That way, you can cook the garlic quickly and ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Salt the pasta water: Since there are only a few ingredients in this recipe, it’s important that each and every one is prepared perfectly. Make sure to generously salt the pasta water, so hat the spaghetti has the best flavor.
  • Cook the garlic until it’s just golden brown: Garlic can cook and burn very easily, so it’s important to keep a close eye on it, to ensure that the garlic just reaches that toasted golden brown color.

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a review and rating below! To see more recipes and behind the scenes, follow along on InstagramTikTok, and Youtube! I’m also now on Pinterest, so stop by and take a look at what’s new.

** Photography by Tanya Pilgrim
A bowl of the perfect spaghetti aglio e oilio, with a serving fork and spoon sitting inside of the bowl
Nut Free/Refined Sugar Free

Perfect Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

No ratings yet
Nicole Modic
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
SERVES 4 Servings
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"Simple" doesn't have to be boring, and there is no recipe that exemplifies this more than the Spaghetti Aglio E Olio. Translating to "spaghetti with garlic and olive oil," this simple, yet refined spaghetti dish is a staple in Italy, and for a good reason. My take on this recipe is the Perfect Spaghetti Aglio E Olio, made from just spaghetti noodles, heaps of fresh garlic, high-quality olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Don't let this ingredient list fool you – this recipe is packed with flavor in each and every bite!

Ingredients

For the Spaghetti:

  • 16 Ounces Spaghetti of choice
  • ½ Cup Olive Oil
  • 12 Cloves Garlic sliced very thin
  • ½ – 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • ½ Cup Reserved Pasta Water

For Garnishing:

  • ⅓ – ½ Cup Parmigiano Reggiano freshly grated
  • ½ Cup Fresh Parsley finely chopped

Instructions

  • To make this spaghetti, start by bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Be sure to salt the water generously.
  • Once the water is boiling, add in the spaghetti and cook it until it is just one minute shy of being al dente – this should be approximately 1-2 minutes less than what the cook time on the packaging calls for.
  • While the pasta is cooking, grab another pan and heat it on the stove, over medium-high heat.
  • Add in the olive oil, and, once it's hot add in the chopped garlic cloves and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring and cooking them for about 5 minutes. Watch it very carefully, so that the garlic doesn't burn! You can reduce the heat to low or lift the pan from the heat, as needed.
  • Once the pasta has cooked, drain the water from the pot, reserving about a half a cup of it.
  • Then, use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta into the pan with the garlic and olive oil.
  • Add in the reserved pasta water and toss to coat well.
  • Finally, grate the parmigiano reggiano into the pasta and add in the chopped parsley, tossing until they're fully combined.
  • Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Then, serve and enjoy!

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