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Spaghetti Aglio Olio is an easy meatless pasta dish that’s loaded with garlic and olive oil, perfect as a main course, side dish, or light lunch.
A long time ago I had a friend that loved to cook Italian foods.
Spaghetti Aglio Olio, a.k.a garlic pasta, and a red meatless “gravy” were the only two things I ever cooked with that friend.
If you have read any of my other posts, you know that I can never leave well enough alone in a recipe and have taken liberties over the years to adjust this recipe to my own preferences.
I think this is the way most folks cook Aglio Olio, as no two recipes ever seem the same.
The way I learned to cook Spaghetti Aglio Olio was to start with olive oil, garlic, and anchovies.
I know that the anchovies are supposed to melt into the sauce and provide a rich flavor.
I find it leaves too fishy of a taste for me and I have chosen to not use them.
If you like that flavor, all you have to do is add 4 to 6 anchovy filets to the cold skillet with the garlic and oil when you first start the dish.
The real key to great Italian food is to stop cooking your garlic, in any recipe, before it gets any color beyond very light brown.
Anything past that and your garlic will become bitter.
I prefer to serve this as a meatless main dish with salad and a simple baguette.
It’s also perfect as a side dish with juicy grilled steaks, roasted chicken pieces, and chicken marsala.
For those folks that are eating vegetarian, chicken broth can be substituted with vegetable broth.
The broth can even be left out, it is just something I have added to my version because it adds more flavor.
Some people find Spaghetti Aglio Olio to be tasteless, the addition of undiluted broth helps with this.
So does lots and lots of Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and sometimes salt.
Be careful with the addition of salt though, some Parmesan cheese is already mighty salty.
Add a ladle of the water the pasta was cooked in if it is too dry and you want to leave the broth out.
I sprinkle some cheese and parsley on top for some added richness.
I am currently using a shaved Parmesan, Romano, Asiago mix from my local market cheese section, but shredded or grated Parmesan also work just fine, and that’s all I had ever used until recently.
Cherry tomato halves will bring some color to the dish, and add just a touch of tomato for those who just don’t get that spaghetti can be eaten without tomatoes.
Leftover Spaghetti Aglio Olio can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a microwave the next day.
You might want to add some broth, water, or even a touch more olive oil near the end of the cooking time.
Pasta tends to absorb all the liquids in a dish as it cools and sits in the refrigerator.
Think about the last time you stored spaghetti with pasta sauce mixed in, what did it look like the next morning?
Ya, Spaghetti Aglio Olio will do the same thing.
Spaghetti Aglio Olio
- 1 head garlic
- 1/2 cup light olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 16 ounces mushrooms cut into quarters, I prefer baby portabellas
- 1 can condensed chicken broth undiluted, vegetable stock can be used if cooking vegetarian
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 16 ounces spaghetti
- Shaved Parmesan cheese optional
- Cherry tomato halves optional
- Parsley finely chopped, optional
- Add oil and garlic to cold skillet. Turn heat to medium.
- Cook for 5 minutes, or until garlic becomes fragrant, stirring occasionally.
- Once garlic becomes fragrant, add red pepper flakes and mushrooms to pan and continue cooking until mushrooms have shrunk to about half of their original size.
- Begin cooking spaghetti, your water should be boiling by now.
- Add chicken or vegetable broth to garlic and mushrooms in the skillet and continue to simmer while the spaghetti cooks.
- Add black pepper to garlic mushroom sauce. Reduce heat to low.
- Save 1 to 2 cups of starchy pasta water in a bowl before straining spaghetti and set aside.
- Drain spaghetti when cooked, but do not rinse.
- Immediately add pasta to skillet with garlic and mushrooms.
- Turn and mix to coat all noodles with mixture, adding pasta water as needed to achieve your desired consistency of sauce.
- Mushrooms and garlic may not get mixed into pasta, spoon extra mushrooms and garlic over pasta after plated.
- Top with cheese, parsley, and cherry tomatoes as desired.
More Italian Recipe from Pear Tree Kitchen: