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Spaghetti aglio e olio con peperoncino (Spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper)

February 29, 2012
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Serves 2

The quality of the ingredients is key here. Use fresh garlic that still feels firm and top-quality olive oil. If your crushed red pepper has been open a while and turned a dull maroon, the flavor too has faded. Time to buy a new jar of bright red ones. This recipe comes from Marcella Hazan’s book, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.’’ If you double the recipe, you need a 14-inch skillet or wok.

 Salt, to taste 

1/2  pound durum semolina spaghetti 

3  tablespoons good olive oil 

2  cloves garlic, chopped finely 

1/4  teaspoon chopped hot red chili pepper or crushed red pepper, or to taste  

1  tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 

1/2  cup grated pecorino romano cheese (for serving) 

1. In a large pot of generously salted, boiling water, cook the spaghetti until it is 1 minute less than the time suggested on the package.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or wok on medium-low heat, heat the olive oil, garlic, and red chili pepper or crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic just starts to turn pale gold (do not let it brown).

3. Dip a heatproof glass measuring cup into the pasta water. Remove 1/2 cup. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet.

4. Drain the pasta and without rinsing it or shaking off excess moisture, tip it into the skillet. Turn the strands over and over in the oil to coat them evenly. Add more pasta cooking water, if necessary.

5. Turn off the heat, taste for seasoning, and add more salt, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley and toss again. Serve with cheese. Ike DeLorenzo. Adapted from “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’’

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