No need to say that I’m a garlic lover, killer, you name it and if it’s related to garlic, that’s me. Pasta aglio e olio is not only my favorite comfort food: the food that I want to eat when I’m extremely happy and the food I want if I’m stressed too.
This recipe proves, one more time, that the simpler the better. You just need six ingredients, including salt and crushed red pepper to create a light yet flavorful dish.
The first thing is to flavor the olive oil by sautéing the garlic. For many years I wrongly believed that garlic should be only sautéed until golden. By avoiding the garlic to get brown, I thought I would prevent the oil from getting a bitter flavor. Wrong!
One day, by mistake I let the garlic to get really brownish —almost burned, I would say— and instead of discarding it, we decided to use it. The result: crunchy garlic chips and the best pasta aglio e olio ever!
To contrast with the strong garlic flavor, parsley is the key ingredient. When I first began having this pasta I used to sprinkle some minced parsley on my plate. Now I like to add flat Italian parsley not as a garnish, but as a main ingredient. Its fresh crispiness perfectly balances the crunchy tart flavor of the garlic.
I like this pasta either with Capelli d’Angelo (Angel’s Hair) or Vermicelli.
1 package Angel's Hair or Vermicelli
¾ cup olive oil
8-10 garlic cloves finely sliced
1 cup leaves of flat parsley coarsely chopped
Coarse sea salt
Crushed red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese shredded (I used Parmigiano Reggiano)
Put the water for the pasta to boil. Add the olive oil to a saucepan on low to medium heat and sauté the garlic for about 8-10 minutes, until brown. Set aside. In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente and strain it. To stop cooking, let some fresh water run on top of the pasta and strain it again. Put the pasta in a bowl, add the olive oil and garlic, season with salt to taste, add the parsley and stir. Serve warm with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.