Spaghetti Aio e Oio

Sometimes “simple” is exactly what you need.

I find that with recipes that use five ingredients or less, and this is one prime example (not counting sea salt and water), that technique takes on greater importance. The quality of your ingredients matters too, as inferior ones showcase their flaws more.

On a side note, I recently managed to acquire “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan. This is the 2012 edition, and if you’re playing along, the recipe for this can be found on pages 170 and 171. I’m going to have boatloads of fun with this cookbook, given how often I eat pasta during the week. I look forward to cooking my way through it.

Spaghetti con aglio e olio ("Spaghetti with garlic and oil")

Spaghetti Aio e Oio (“Spaghetti with Roman Garlic and Oil Sauce”)

Even though I’ve made “aio e oio” before, I managed to learn a couple of things following Marcella’s instruction. For instance, I didn’t know that the pasta water should be liberally salted. (I normally don’t salt the water, especially if the resulting sauce will also contain high amounts of salt such as in a “puttanesca”, or anything that contains anchovies.)

Note: This recipe is scaled to serve two people.

1/2 lb. pasta
sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, chopped very fine
crushed red chile pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cook the spaghetti in boiling water to which an extra measure of sea salt has been added. There is no salt in the sauce itself because salt does not dissolve well in olive oil, so the pasta must be abundantly salted before it is tossed.

While the pasta is cooking, put the olive oil, garlic, and crushed red chile pepper flakes in a small skillet or saucepan, on medium-low heat. Cook and stir the garlic until it becomes colored a pale gold. Do not let it become brown.

Toss the cooked drained pasta with the entire contents of the skillet, turning the strands over and over in the oil to coat them evenly. Taste for salt. Add the chopped parsley, toss once again, and serve at once.

Time: About 30 minutes, including prep.


  1. Thanks for the tip, but I was under the impression (from reading Marcella, and other sources) that the reason you salt the pasta cooking water is so you can flavor the pasta itself, not the sauce.


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anna brones

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