Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Red Pepper
Author: Celia Spivack
Recipe type: Pasta, Vegetarian, Entree
Yield: 6 servings
When I am tired of tomato sauces and I want pasta with an easy, yet satisfying taste I turn to extra virgin olive oil, lots of garlic, red pepper flakes, flat leaf Italian parsley, and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese sprinkled over the top. A microplane grater makes quick work of grating a block of cheese. Although Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is expensive, a little goes a long way because of its depth of flavor. Once you have tried freshly grated cheese, you won’t be satisfied with pre-grated parmesan cheese in those green cans. The olive oil loses some of its distinctive taste when heated, which is why we are reserving half of it to add to the dish when it is off the heat. After the basics, you can throw in extras like tuna fish, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, Kalamata olives, broccoli, spinach leaves, asparagus, marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil leaves or a myriad of other ingredients to switch up the pace. If you are adding chunky ingredients, it is good to use chunky-shaped pasta. The base recipe clings nicely to any of the long pastas. There is a classic Italian dish called Pasta Aglio Olio e Peperoncino which is made with those basic ingredients I described. Here is a base recipe which you can tweak to your own tastes.
- 1 pound of pasta of your choice
- 12 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 6 large cloves of garlic, sliced very thin or minced
- 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup packed flat Italian parsley leaves, chopped coarsely
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Freshly ground coarse black pepper
- Cook the pasta in a large amount of salted water for a minute or two less than the time suggested on the package. Taste. The pasta should be cooked, but still a little short of the ideal “al dente”. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.
- In a skillet large enough to hold the drained pasta, heat 6 tablespoons of the oil. Sauté the garlic and the red pepper flakes in the oil until the garlic is golden, but not browned, about a minute or two. Stir in the drained pasta and some of the pasta water to moisten the pasta if needed. Add the reserved extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground coarse black pepper to taste, the parsley and any add-ins that you would like. Serve the pasta with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.