Pasta Aglio e Olio

Pasta Aglio e Olio, a classic Italian dish, is a testament to the simplicity of great cuisine. With just a handful of ingredients, this recipe transforms humble spaghetti into a flavorful and satisfying meal. Fragrant garlic is gently sautéed in golden olive oil, creating a rich and aromatic base. A touch of crushed red pepper flakes adds a subtle heat, while fresh parsley and zesty lemon juice brighten the dish.

Tossed with perfectly cooked spaghetti and finished with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, this dish is both elegant and comforting. Whether you’re craving a quick weeknight dinner or hosting a dinner party, Pasta Aglio e Olio is sure to impress with its vibrant flavors and effortless charm.

How to make Pasta Aglio e Olio


1 pound dried spaghetti

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving

Kosher salt and black pepper

⅓ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


Step 1:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add spaghetti, cooking until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

Step 2:

Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-low.

Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Add crushed red pepper flakes and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.

Add drained spaghetti to pan and toss, adding pasta water, until spaghetti is thoroughly coated.

Step 3:

Remove pan from heat, add parsley, lemon juice, and Parmesan and toss well.

Check for flavor, adding more salt if necessary.

Garnish with more Parmesan, lemon wedges, and crushed red pepper flakes.


Ingredient Quality: Since this dish relies on a few key ingredients, ensuring they are of high quality is essential. Look for a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and Parmesan cheese for the best flavor.

Garlic Infusion: Infusing the olive oil with garlic over low heat allows the garlic to release its flavor slowly without burning. This creates a rich and aromatic base for the pasta.

Spaghetti Cooking: Cooking the spaghetti until al dente is crucial to achieving the perfect texture. Be sure to follow the package instructions and taste-test for the desired doneness.

Pasta Water: Reserving some pasta water before draining the spaghetti is a key step. The starchy water helps emulsify the sauce and creates a silky texture when tossed with the pasta.

Adjusting Seasoning: Taste the dish before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. Adding salt and pepper to taste ensures a well-balanced flavor profile.

Garnishing: The garnishes of fresh parsley, lemon wedges, Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper flakes add visual appeal and extra flavor to the dish. Encourage diners to customize their servings according to their taste preferences.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 645 | Fat: 42 grams | Carbohydrates: 55 grams | Protein: 14 grams | Fiber: 3 grams

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use fresh pasta instead of dried spaghetti?

Yes, you can use fresh pasta if you prefer.

However, adjust cooking time accordingly as fresh pasta cooks faster than dried.

What can I substitute for parsley if I don’t have any?

You can use other fresh herbs like basil or cilantro, or omit the parsley altogether if desired.

Is it necessary to reserve pasta water?

Yes, reserving pasta water helps create a silky sauce when added to the pan with the spaghetti and other ingredients.

It helps bind everything together.

Can I adjust the spiciness of the dish?

Absolutely! You can increase or decrease the amount of crushed red pepper flakes according to your preference for spiciness.

Is it okay to use pre-grated Parmesan cheese?

Yes, pre-grated Parmesan cheese works fine.

However, freshly grated Parmesan typically has better flavor and texture.

Can I make this dish vegetarian?

Yes, you can omit the Parmesan or use a vegetarian alternative to make it suitable for vegetarians.

How long should I cook the garlic?

Cook the garlic until it turns golden brown, which usually takes about 3 minutes over medium-low heat.

Be careful not to burn it as it can become bitter.

What type of olive oil is best for this recipe?

Extra-virgin olive oil works best for its flavor, but you can use regular olive oil if that’s what you have on hand.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

While it’s best served fresh, you can make it ahead and reheat it.

Keep in mind that the texture may change slightly upon reheating.

What are the lemon wedges for?

Lemon wedges are served alongside the dish to add a fresh citrusy flavor.

Squeezing a bit of lemon juice over the pasta just before eating can enhance the flavors.

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