Pasta Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

finished pasta aglio

One of the things I feel very fortunate to have had in my life is the ability to travel. Through my job and my husband’s job, we have been able to visit many cities in the United States and abroad over the last few years. With that, we have been lucky to eat some of the best food at amazingly creative restaurants.

One of our favorite quick dishes is something we picked up on a business trip to Rome a few year’s ago. It is apparently a very popular Italian dish and I love its simplicity and versatility. It’s basically pasta in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. I’ve played around with the amount of each ingredient over the years to find what my family thinks is the perfect combination. It sounds so basic that I am surprised anew each time I eat it how much depth and flavor this recipe packs. 

There are variations on this dish, including the simple pasta aglio e olio, or pasta with garlic and oil, which does not include the red pepper flakes. While we use spaghetti and have eaten it in several restaurants with spaghetti, you can also use linguini or another long, thin pasta, if you wish. IMG_8333

Prep Time: A few minutes to add all of the ingredients together

Cook Time: Less than 10 minutes for the pasta to cook and to saute the garlic

Servings: about 6


  • 1 box of spaghetti (about 13 ounces). We use Dreamfields spaghetti
  • 3/4 cup olive oil. We use a California variety in a dark container to help keep it fresh
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic. As I have mentioned before, we use a jarred minced garlic in either water or olive oil  to save time, but you can certainly mince fresh as well
  • 1/8 cup red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

First I like to father all of my ingredients. Put a pot of salted water on to boil. I usually only add a few pinches of salt, though you could add whatever you normally use and then adjust the salt you add in the end to taste. I have heard that “layering” the salt helps create more depth of flavor, so it’s worth a try!

pasta aglio ingredients

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, add 1/4 cup of your olive oil to a pan with the minced garlic. Saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the garlic turns a golden brown.

pasta aglio garlic

When your water begins to boil, add your spaghetti. Cook al dente, or until the pasta is no longer white in the middle and still tastes firm. We cook all of our pasta al dente because it has a lower glycemic index, and personally I just do not like pasta with any mushiness to it. Mushiness. That’s a word, right?pasta aglio spaghetti

Look at that beautiful pasta! I could just shovel it all in my mouth like this, but I digress. Now it’s time to add the flavor. Toss in the sauteed garlic and oilive oil. Add the remaining olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and a pinch of pepper. NOTE: This recipe does have some kick to it. If you are wary of spicy food, add the red pepper flakes  a little at a time until you get the desired flavor. 
finished pasta aglio

Finally, top with grated Parmesan, if that’s your thing. We also frequently add roasted squash to ours, fresh or lightly sauteed roma tomatoes, or our favorite Parmesan-crusted shrimp scampi to make it a meal. You can find my shrimp scampi recipe here!pasta aglio with Parmesan shrimp


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