Aglio e Olio

When the greengrocer has fresh, west garlic, all fragrant and purple, at this time of year, don’t ask questions. Just do this:

Get the pasta going. Make sure it’s posh dried pasta. If you have too much spare time, then fresh pasta you’ve made yourself, but don’t bother with the “fresh” pasta from the supermarket, packed in its “protective atmosphere”.

Meanwhile, find a saucepan big enough to hold the cooked pasta later on. A heavy based saucepan (why would you use anything else?) pays dividends here. For each person add:

  • two cloves of fresh garlic (or one clove dried) finely chopped (but not, I repeat, not crushed)
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • a tablespoon (15mL) of extra virgin olive oil – now is not the time to use your second-best oil

You’ll also need some fresh parsley, chopped, as much as you can hold between your thumb and forefinger per serve. (But you add this at the end.)

Fry the garlic and chilli very gently in the olive oil – just the barest simmer and bubble – so by the time the garlic is translucent and golden, the pasta is more or less done. Don’t worry if the garlic arrives early, just turn the heat off.

Drain the pasta and tip it into the saucepan with the garlic, add the parsley, and stir like mad, so the pasta is coated. Don’t forget that stirring like mad may launch hot oil into the air so be careful. If you feel the need, an extra splash of olive oil won’t go astray. Serve with plenty of grana.


  • whenever Signor R. was ill as a child, his mother would always prepare this for him, but with eye watering amounts of garlic to chase away the virii and bacteria
  • depending on your fondness for heat, or the delicacy of your bum, you may want to vary the chilli levels
  • toasted pine nuts, whole Kalamata olives, and a few shredded ribbons of Parma ham won’t hurt, but you’re missing the point if you put them all in

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