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Aglio Olio Recipe

   

Aglio Olio Recipe

Check Out: Mushroom Spaghetti Recipe

Note: First posted in Oct 2007, now updated with new photos and improved recipe.

Aglio e Olio is one of my favourite Italian pasta dishes. Aglio e Olio means “Garlic and Oil” in Italian, and one of the simplest pasta dishes to make.This is one dish which I don’t mind drenched in (good-quality olive) oil. Authentic Aglio e Olio only have a few key ingredients – just garlic, olive oil and pasta, so this is something you can whip up with minimum ingredients. While I do enjoy indulging in tomato-based or cream-based pasta now and then, the law of diminishing returns often sets in whenever I eat creamy pastas, where I find my enjoyment diminishing halfway through. But for the light-and-fresh-tasting Aglio e Olio, I find that I can easily finish my plate and still left hungry for just a bit more.

Aglio Olio Recipe

Tips for making perfect aglio olio, every time

  • Pasta should be cooked in salted water which is almost as salty as sea water. The cooked pasta will taste salted and this will reduce or eliminate the need to salt the dish later.
  • Do not add oil when cooking the pasta as doing so will prevent the pasta from absorbing the salt or the overall flavour of the dish.
  • Al dente is an Italian terms referring to perfectly cooked pasta which is firm (but not hard), and with a slight bite. Tip from my Italian friend Isa on how to tell if pasta is “al dente” – “usually the best way is to taste it, but here’s another method for inexperienced people: if you take a spaghetti string that’s cooking and cut it, you should see a white dot in the middle that’s still hard. This means the pasta is not cooked yet. As soon as the white dot disappears (but the middle part is still a bit hard), then the pasta is “al dente” and you can drain it!”
  • Reserve some water from cooking the pasta and add a few tablespoons of it to the final dish. The pasta water not only helps to bind the ingredients, the starch in the pasta water will give the dish a smoother finish.
  • Because you are working with minimum ingredients, the quality of the ingredients will make a huge difference. Go for good quality olive oil and fresh parsley, where possible. Always use fresh garlic instead of pre-chopped bottled garlic.
  • Tip for making perfect golden brown, not burnt garlic: the oil temperature must be just right when you add the garlic, meaning the garlic should sizzle gently in the heated oil when added to the pan (if the oil splatters violently or no reaction when garlic is added, it means the oil is either over-heated or not heated enough).
  • Another tip for making perfect golden brown garlic: monitor the colour of the garlic as they cook in the oil. Turn off the stove once the garlic turns light golden brown. The garlic will continue cooking in the hot oil until it turns a lovely golden brown. If you only turn off the stove when they reached the golden brown hue, they will continue cooking in the hot oil and become burnt. Should the garlic not reach the desired golden brown, simply heat up the oil for another 5-10 seconds, turn off the stove and let the garlic continue browning on its own.
  • This finishing touch may not follow the authentic Italian recipe and is entirely optional, but adding a few small cubes of butter at the end will help give the pasta dish additional flavour and a smooth, velvety finish.
  • Authentic Aglio e Olio is plain. However, it is now popular to add other ingredients like seafood, mushrooms or meat to the basic Aglio e Olio to make a more complete meal.
                                           

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57 Responses to “Aglio Olio Recipe”

  1. Margot @ Coffee & Vanilla — September 28, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

    Oh, what a great recipe!! Now I know what I will be making soooon. Thanks for sharing Wiffy… have a great weekend! :)

    Reply

  2. kai — October 3, 2012 @ 7:48 am

    hello wiffy! :) this is the favourite pasta dish of my better half. i wanted to whip up a little sth for her, so i googled the recipe, and was led here. of course, being the total noob that i am, i had to have a few trial runs first. and sure enough, the first attempt was disastrous! the pasta came out too dry, and a little too spicy; the garlic was too crispy (haha sigh). so for dinner the next day, i added more olive oil, used a smaller fire to sauté the garlic, took a smaller pinch of chilli flakes, and added more pasta water for the finish! the outcome was certainly a more palatable dish. i didn’t have any butter to add though. will try that the next time i experiment with this dish. may i clarify if the butter should be of the salted, or unsalted variety? thanks wiffy for the recipe!

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — October 3rd, 2012 @ 10:02 am

      Hi, I prefer to use unsalted and add salt to taste in my cooking, but if you only have salted butter you can use that :)

      Reply

      • kai replied: — October 9th, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

        thanks wiffy! :)

  3. joan — October 24, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

    Thank you SOO MUCH for the tips! This page and the recipe for mushroom aglio olio have improved my pasta cooking skills to the next level. I can’t express how much your idiot proof tips have worked for me. Hope it works for others as well. Now this dish has become my best dish. (:

    Reply

  4. Chen — November 22, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

    Very nice will cook it again n afain

    Reply

  5. Diane Yue — March 11, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

    Thanks for your tip on making the perfect aglio olio (especially when dealing with the garlic)…..my attempts often end up with burnt and bitter garlic! LOL!

    Reply

  6. Gsquared — March 29, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

    Hi, I have never tried Aglio Olio until my wife and sons ( their fav pasta) recommended them to me. Have since got hooked to eating them a few times in a week. Have also tried cooking them myself and they taste quite flavorful . It is adviseable to use first cold pressed virgin olive oil as they contain less than 0.5% acidity though, according to the manufacturer. This pasta is also considered healthy and am now a fan .

    Reply

  7. CuriousBoi — April 9, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    I’m cooking this dish for my F&N coursework and im not sure if i should add some chicken meat.Is is a must for chilli flakes and olive oil?

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — April 10th, 2013 @ 10:42 am

      for authentic aglio olio, they do add chilli and olive oil but no chicken. But of course, home cooking means adapting it to your own preference so feel free to omit/add any ingredients you like

      Reply

  8. Sophia — July 26, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    OOH, sounds delicious, can’t wait to try it…

    Reply

  9. Lynn — December 13, 2013 @ 12:17 am

    I don’t cook at all. But Aglio Olio is my favourite, hence decided to try out this recipe for my husband. He gave me 80% for my 1st attempt! Not that I’m good, I would rather give credit to this recipe. It’s detailed and yet easy to follow.

    Reply

    • wiffy replied: — December 16th, 2013 @ 11:19 am

      must aim for 95% :)

      Reply

  10. jamie — February 5, 2014 @ 9:57 pm

    hi wiffy! i tried following the recipe and it turns out great! However, i feel that the pasta does not really absorbed the flavour although it really smelled great! What could possibly be the reasons? Would like to hear your advice!:)

    Reply

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