3-minute read (698 words)
Food is one of those healthy appetites that just make life more enjoyable, memorable, and downright sexy! Having a few easy-to-prepare dishes that are virtually effortless to prepare is always impressive and seductive.
I have a serious love affair with pasta. I haven’t met a pasta I didn’t love. But, some of those dishes are major undertakings! In the heat of the moment, that’s the last thing you want!
Pasta aglio e olio, or pasta with garlic and oil, is about as simple, as elemental as it can get, but voluptuous, satisfying, maybe even orgasmic. It’s a few simple ingredients you can always have on hand that come together in about 15 minutes. It’s one of those dishes that benefits from practicing the preparation, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. It’s kind of hard to mess this up!
The first time I had pasta aglio e olio was when a Couchsurfing houseguest from Perugia, Italy offered to make dinner as his gift. Is there anything better than a sexy, handsome Italian man cooking for you? Well, yes, but he was true to his girlfriend in Italy, so I made do with a beautiful, simple dinner made with love, served with a great bottle of wine.
6-8 ounces (½ box) dried pasta, spaghetti or linguine. Enough for two generous servings.
3 Tbls. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, plus 1 Tablespoon
5-6 plump, fresh garlic cloves, sliced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes or more to taste.
1-2 Cups of the hot pasta water
¼ tsp. salt, or more to taste
1/3 Cup chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
Grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano (freshly grated cheese, whether you do it or you’ve bought a container (not green!) of prepared good quality cheese is essential to this dish)
Peel and slice the fresh garlic. Chop the fresh parsley. Set both aside until needed...
Put a large pot of water on to boil. When the water is at a full. Rolling boil, add enough salt to season but not to “taste like the sea.” Always wait for the water to come to a boil before adding salt to avoid damaging your cookware.
Plunge the dried pasta into the boiling water 5 minutes before starting the sauce.
Pour 3 tablespoons of the oil into a 10-12-inch cold skillet (big enough to hold all of the hot pasta), scatter the garlic slices in the oil and set over medium heat to quietly sizzle.
Carefully cook for a minute, add the red pepper flakes, and cook another minute, shaking the pan now and then, until the garlic slices are an even light gold. (Do not let the garlic go brown! It’ll be bitter and inedible.) You can add a small amount of pasta water to prevent the garlic from burning.
Carefully add 2 cups of boiling pasta water (watch out for sizzling spatters) and cook rapidly for 2 to 3 minutes, reducing the liquid by a third or so. This will bring the water and oil together to emulsify. Taste the sauce; add salt as needed. Keep at a low simmer until the pasta is ready.
When the pasta is not quite al dente (about 1 minute short of recommended cooking time), bring the sauce to an active simmer, and then carefully and quickly dump all the drained pasta in.
(A Good Tip - Use tongs to remove the pasta from the water, rather than dumping the pasta into a colander and losing all the pasta water.)
Add the chopped parsley to the skillet.
Finish the sauce and pasta by tossing them together or using tongs to turn the pasta in the skillet over low to moderate heat until the pasta is tender to the bite and coated in the sauce. If the dish is dry, incorporate more hot pasta water; if soupy, reduce with higher heat and a bit more cooking.
Remove the skillet from the heat when pasta is creamy.
Divide into bowls or plate. If desired, top with grated cheese and drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil and serve...preferably in bed! With a great bottle of wine!
Buon appetito! Here’s to great food memories!