Aglio e Olio
‘Aglio e olio’ in Italian simply means ‘garlic and oil’ (pronunciation: ‘alio e olio’). It is a simple, traditional but delicious spaghetti dish with garlic and olive oil as the two primary ingredients.
It is one of the widely available, traditional spaghetti dish not only in Italy but in some other parts of the world as well. One of the primary reason for its popularity may be due to the fewer ingredients that are required and also because of easy availability. Spaghetti, unlike my childhood days, is now quite widely available in the cities of India. Garlic, olive oil, parsley, cheese and of course the spaghetti – are all that you need to make spaghetti Aglio e Olio. In India, I replace parsley with fresh coriander leaves, and often add fresh leaves of basil from our kitchen garden for garnish.
For me, it is very rare when a vegetarian dish upstages a non vegetarian one but, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is definitely one of them.
Spaghetti – 250 gm.
Cheese (cheddar or mozarella) – 100 gm, grated
Garlic – 12, finely chopped
Olive oil – 6 tablespoon
Chilli flakes (optional) – 1 tablespoon
Put the spaghetti in a pot for boiling in plain water (no need to add salt).
At the same time, in a frying pan, add the olive oil and about 4 tablespoons of chopped garlic (roughly about 12 pieces of garlic). ‘Aglio e Olio’ means ‘garlic and oil’ – so please use these two ingredients in fair quantity. Keep your flame in sim and allow the garlic to get slowly fried for about 5-8 mins, so the scent of garlic gets infused in the olive oil.
While frying the garlic (in low heat), add a few tablespoons of water from the pot in which you are boiling the spaghetti to the pan with olive oil and garlic.
Now, bit by bit put the cooked spaghetti (say, with a tong) directly from the boiling water into the pan. [No need to drain the spaghetti.]
Add salt. Mix well and cook for few more minutes.
Put a good quantity of grated cheese. Mix everything well.
Add basil (fresh or dried) or chopped parsley; you may even add fresh coriander leaves (easily available in India) instead of parsley (if not available); or if you do not like to add neither parsley nor coriander leaves, just skip this step.
Serve hot, in a plate. While serving, you may garnish with a bit of grated cheese and put few drops of olive oil on the top.
Be generous with the olive oil and chopped garlic because these two are the main actors in this dish. Overall, it should not be too dry (not like hakka noodles) rather it should be moist. Hence, from time to time while you cook the spaghetti in the pan, keep on adding some spaghetti water into it.
If you like to make it slightly hot and spicy, after adding grated cheese sprinkle some chilli flakes as well. Or, if you do not have chilli flakes, don’t worry – take the liberty to add a bit of finely chopped fresh green chilli.