Simple, inexpensive, quick to prepare, satisfying – what else can you ask for? Spaghetti with Oil, Garlic & Chili is a favorite which can be eaten any time of day but is especially enjoyed in the late hours (or perhaps the early hours) after a night of fun. Spaghetti with Oil, Garlic & Chile relies on six rather ordinary ingredients, but when orchestrated correctly it becomes a masterpiece.
Spaghetti is the pasta of choice for this and should be prepared with an abundant amount of cold water which has been brought to a roaring boil. Always add a generous handful of salt to the boiling water before you add the pasta. Once added, give the pasta a strong stir with a wooden spoon and bring the water back to a boil. The pasta must be cooked al dente, which typically means shaving a few minutes (~2) off of the recommended time on the package instructions. The remaining ingredients should be assembled and ready to go before you add the pasta to the boiling water.
Select a large, heavy duty skillet to prepare the oil, garlic and chili sauce alongside the boiling pasta pot. The Calabrese are known for their love of spicy food, so I always have some dried red chili peppers from Vibo Valenti, but crushed red pepper from the supermarket is perfectly fine. Your garlic must be plump and fresh, my preference is to slice the cloves rather than to mince, for those of us who enjoy the taste but would rather not actually eat the garlic.
Variations on this theme can include adding an anchovy fillet or two to the oil once you start the browning of the garlic. The anchovy will melt into the oil bringing a subtle nuance to the overall spaghetti dish. Adding some capers is another option which adds a piquant brininess. Breadcrumbs toasted with olive oil are a nice way to top each individual serving.
Often, the most basic of dishes bring the greatest satisfaction; for me, a well-prepared dish of spaghetti is like nothing else.
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- 1 pound of dried commercial
spaghetti,preferably imported Italian
- 4 plump garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Calabrian chili pepper crushed, seeds removed or 1 tsp. of crushed red chili pepper
- ⅓ cup Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt
- Optional additions:
- 2 anchovy fillets or 1½ Tbs. of capers
- ⅓ cup of breadcrumbs pan toasted in olive oil
- Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy duty skillet which will be able to accommodate the pound of cooked pasta. Once the oil is hot, turn the heat to Medium-low and add the sliced garlic and chili pepper with a bit of salt. If you are adding anchovy fillets this should be done at this time and eliminate the salt. Stir gently and add ½ of the chopped parsley leaves. Once the garlic is brown, remove the skillet from the heat to prevent it from burning; by this
pointany anchovy should have melted into the sauce.
- Once the pasta is ready to be drained, have the skillet back on the burner over a medium flame. Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss to coat the spaghetti. If the dish seems dry, add a bit of the pasta water to loosen it up - not too much as the spaghetti is only to be coated with the flavorful oil. If you like capers, this would be the time to add them.
- Serve immediately and top with the toasted breadcrumbs if you like.