Spaghetti aglio olio is one of those fundamental basic recipes that just about every household in Italy has made at one time or other and most likely in every Italian American household as well. Searching for flavors of home, Italian immigrants could create a tasty dish with their coveted pasta and flavorful garlic. In its simplicity, three ingredients, the technique is what makes it happen and be so good. Do not burn the garlic and add pasta water to make it into a sauce, as simple as that. In the recipe that follows, I have added some shredded basil, in my travel researching throughout America, I found that the addition of basil to garlic and oil sauce was common, so here is the recipe.
- 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
- 10 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 pound spaghetti
- ½ teaspoon peperoncino
- Kosher salt, to taste
- ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, shredded
- ½ cup grated Grana Padano
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and let sizzle until garlic begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water once you begin cooking the garlic and give the spaghetti a stir. Once the garlic is golden, add the peperoncino and let toast for a minute, then ladle in 2 cups pasta water. Bring the sauce to a rapid boil. Season with salt based on taste (and how salty your pasta water is).
Once the sauce has reduced by about half and the spaghetti is al dente, scoop the pasta from the water and add to the sauce. Add the parsley. Cook and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Off heat, add the basil and grated cheese. Toss, adding a final drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.This recipe, besides the addition of basil can be transformed into a different sauce without major effort or investment.
Here are some variations. You can add four anchovy fillets when you add the sliced garlic or add ½ cup drained capers when you add the pasta water, or you can add both.