What’s not to love about pasta and olive oil?
Especially when you add in a little butter, loads of garlic, a few flecks of red pepper and top the whole thing off with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
I feel like Giada with a big toothy grin when Pasta e Olio is the dish of the evening.
I’m indulging the child in me who just wants pasta and butter, but pretending it’s more grown up – which – who are we kidding – it’s not.
But it’s romantic.
I’m not kidding here.
It is romantic. This pasta, a simple salad, some wine and candle light, and you are on your way to a quick but impressively delicious date night.
Traditionally, the dish is dubbed “Aglio e Olio” (literally: “Garlic and Oil”), and does not include butter. Nor does it include black pepper or basil. And Italians will even argue over whether or not cheese belongs in the dish.
But hey – traditions are meant to be made into your own.
In Italy, Aglio e Olio is more of a late night snack – something to whip up and chow down after a night out on the town or something a chef might throw together for the restaurant staff at the end of the night – but I’m telling you – this pasta will make you swoon way more than a burrito from Taco Bell will. . . .
If simple pasta just won’t cut it as a main dish in your house, consider adding shrimp, grilled chicken, roasted tomatoes or mushrooms, or sautéed chicken sausage.
Play with it. Light some candles, and smooch your Sweetheart. . . hint, hint. Keep this one in mind for Valentines Day.
This dish is quick and easy, so there really is no need to make it ahead - however - it can be served at room temperature as well, making it even more versatile! If you will be making it ahead, reserve the fresh basil (and maybe the Parmesan cheese too - depending on your preference) and toss it together just before serving.
- 1 lb spaghetti or pasta of choice
- 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
- 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (optional)
- Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of cold water to boiling. Salt gernerously. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, warm oil over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and fresh ground black pepper. Cook until garlic is not quite golden. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta, (reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water), and add to a large bowl for tossing. Pour oil and 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water over pasta and toss (I tend to use the full 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water). Add salt to taste (you may not need any). If desired, toss with fresh basil and fresh grated Parmesan cheese - or reserve both and use to garnish individual servings.
Serve immediately. Swoon.
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