What’s Cooking Wednesday: Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

OK, I’m kind of wimping out here as this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is probably the simplest pasta dish ever invented.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not good.

And it also doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it on Italian restaurant menus pretending like it’s all fancy and frou frou when really, every Italian has probably eaten this thousands of times when there was nothing else in Mother Hubbard’s cupboard (or, you know, when they were drunk and/or hungover).

I’m just sayin’.

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

*serves 2

Put on the water to boil.

Peel 3 cloves of garlic, crush slightly. Set aside.

Chop up one hot pepper (or don’t if you’ll use hot pepper flakes instead), and set aside.

Once the water is boiling, add salt and pasta; remove when al dente and let sit in strainer.

Now heat a generous amount of oil, about 5 tablespoons, on medium heat, and then add the garlic, hot pepper (to your taste), and a bit of salt. Just let the garlic get a little brown, but be careful so it doesn’t burn.

Remove the garlic, add the pasta to the pan, and toss well together, leaving it all over the heat for about a minute as you mix.

And that’s it.

So seriously, please don’t ever spend money on this in a restaurant. I don’t ask much of you around here, so per piacere?

Other additions to this dish to make it more special include parsley, grated cheese, and even bread crumbs, but this is your basic Spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino, and it’s truly delicious as is.

Buon appetito!

P.S. Weather watch for Pasqua photos: it’s *extremely* windy and rainy right now, but I’m hoping that means it’ll clear up for the weekend–can’t stay like this forever, right?

25 Beans of Wisdom to “What’s Cooking Wednesday: Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino”
  1. nikinpos

    This is Carlo’s standard dish if he is forced to cook anything! It is good though!

  2. Vanessa

    simple but scrumptious

  3. Judith in Umbria

    This is my kid’s favorite pasta. I made a variation sort of Abruzzo/Puglia style last night in which equal quantities of finely minced garlic and onion were fried in abundant great oil with a hefty pinch of peperoncino, then 8 or so minutes before the spaghetti was al dente about 12 halved cherry tomatoes were tossed in, then the drained spaghetti was added and tossed. Cost about 60 centesimi, value beyond price.
    What a prolific and good blogger you are!

  4. Gina

    I so adore aglio olio! It my was grandfather’s favorite way of having pasta. His family was from Naples. I make mine almost exactly the same way you do. One exception, which I learned from my grandmom (who’s family was from Abruzzi), was to cook some thinly sliced green pepper in with the oil and garlic. My grandmom told me that that’s the way “the napoletani” like it, so she made it that way for my grandfather! My husband — as about as far as you can get from Italian — loves this dish. I make it a lot. It’s super easy and looks and tastes like you slaved over it.

  5. stefanie

    Simplest dish ever, you say, and yet STILL I don’t have all the requisite ingredients on hand.

    You really would be appalled by the contents of my kitchen. Just trust me on that.

  6. Texas Espresso

    we make this all the time! though i like to add some onion to it for extra oomph. i want to try the breadcrumbs – heard of it but never tried it. yummy!


  7. Marmite Breath

    Is there anything else so simple and delicious? God, I love this dish.

    Well, actually, pane con aglio, olio e sale is up there on the simple-but-good-enough-to-make-you-want-to-slap-your-momma scale.

  8. Fran

    I know what I am having for dinner tonight! Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your blog and can’t wait each morning to see what you have written. Thank you!

  9. cheeky

    I love this dish too. I use to frequent a “hole-in-the-wall” family owned italian restaurant who made this, and yeah I paid for it but it wasn’t expensive.
    Tho photo turned out really lovely for the post.

  10. Pink Lace and Pearls

    The picture is making my stomach growl! It looks delicious. I will definitley have to try it.

  11. JennDZ

    You know, sometimes the most simple things are the most delicious! The pepper makes it look so pretty and inviting!

  12. Wendy

    Never tried it with the pepper, sounds like a good lunch for me tomorrow.

  13. The Daily Rant

    We used to eat this all the time when we were kids! What an easy and delicious meal.

    As for spending money on it in a restaurant; I agree – don’t do it.

  14. aqoona

    I think u got a good blog!!
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  15. J.Doe

    I used to eat this all the time with my father-in-law, but my husband doesn’t like spicy dishes so I don’t eat it anymore. It tastes great with tuna fish (in olive oil) added too.

  16. Nadine

    That looks good.

  17. Gil

    I hope that the weather clears for Easter. On our first trip to Italy our daughter took us to my Maternal Grandparents’ towns in Sicily. Up in the hills of my Grandfather’s town it was so cold that the rain was at the point of turning to sleet on Good Friday. We have to get back to Sicily and Calabria in nice weather.

  18. Vee

    Yumm ! That is the best quickest dish.

    Buona Pasqua !

  19. sarala

    Looks good although my favorite is red sauce, especially frutti di mare. This week we observe Passover which means no pasta, bread and so on for me. Makes the recipe look even better.

  20. Cherrye

    Ohhh, this is one of my favs, too. Even I can do it – if that tells you anything…

  21. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    I make this dish all the time. I might try it with some cherry tomatoes this weekend.

  22. 1lifelonglearner

    I really hate to cook but this is one of the few meals that I will make an exception for. I always thought it was just a local dish at one of my favorite corner restaurants. Gee, if this is big in Italy, does that mean I am ‘technically’ a gourmet cook now ??? 🙂

  23. Kristen

    Simple and tasty…my kind of meal! I need to make this soon.

  24. ingirumimusnocte

    oh.. please!!

    Don’t say “grated cheese”, as if any cheese would fit: say Pecorino!!!

    E’ una questione di principio 😉

    p.s. and you can try it “raw” as well.. the garlic would taste spicy and the oil grate..

  25. mishka30

    I add a generous handful of dried basil, and then pour the flavored oil on top. I find that basil gives EVERYTHING that italian touch. In any recipe that calls for parslet, I substitute with dried basil, much more flavorful. I love this dish but I try to eat it maybe 3-4 times a month only…I always add tons of salt while I’m eating it so I’m pretty certain it’s not healthy.

    Ooh P is a salter too; I sometimes take over cooking just so I can have mine with less salt since I don’t even actually like it….

    But yes, basil makes everything lovelier 🙂

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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