Spaghetti Aglio E Olio: Back to the Basics

In a world where Pasta not only features in the menu of every cafe, but also comes in instant boil and eat packets, I am surely a misfit. Well, I too have had my share of ‘Pink Pasta’ and ‘Tandoori Pasta’ and even a ‘Thai Green Curry Pasta’, and have secretly enjoyed some of them too, rather than being outraged. I have even had some Kolkata style pasta, if I may call it so, at street stalls where boiled pasta is tossed up with tomato ketchup, chilli sauce and soy sauce, served with kancha shosha peyaj on top, much like Kolkata street chowmein. But somehow I keep going back to my trusted friend, Aglio E Olio, when I need some comfort in a bowl.

My recipe just involves the following few humble things:

  1. Spaghetti
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Garlic
  4. Parmesan cheese (grated)
  5. Salt

I prefer not using any other herbs or chilli flakes, as for me this dish is all about the garlic and the oil.

Step 1: Par-boil the spaghetti in excess water with a generous amount of salt. Drain the excess water, lest it overcooks and becomes sludgy. Save the pasta boiled water.

Step 2: In a pan on low heat add a good amount of olive oil. There’s no fixed amount really, but it should be enough to coat all the pasta, and still have some excess.

Step 3: Add sliced garlic to the not-too-hot oil. Again there’s no fixed quantity, but it is to be kept in mind that this is the only aromat in the dish. It is important to keep the pan on low heat as the aim is to infuse the garlic flavour in the oil, not to fry the slices.

Step 4: When the garlic starts getting some colour on them, toss in the drained spaghetti. You may add in a ladle or two of the saved pasta water.

Step 5: Season. I try to use sea salt or flecked salt of any kind for this.

Step 6: Grate parmesan cheese over the coated pasta in the pan. And voila! It’s ready 😎

By the time it’s done, the garlic should turn golden and chewy-crunchy, providing some textural variation to the dish. I throw in a few pickled olives or cherry tomatoes over the top at times, but it’s not at all essential. Also, when there’s no parmesan, I used whatever hard cheese I have. It does make some difference, but I can live with that😁

When it comes to cooking pasta myself, I stick to the basics. And what better way to celebrate two of my favourite things: Garlic and Olive Oil, than the simple yet elegant Spaghetti Aglio E Olio.

P.S. My little niece loves it too 😍


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