Simple ingredients for an Italian meal

Spaghetti with garlic, oil, and chili pepper flakes.

The recipe calls for chili pepper flakes, but red pepper flakes will give the same kick. The best part? Everything was already in my pantry.

Most of the meals I cook at home don’t require a recipe. Steam some broccoli, toss it with pasta and sauce, add some grated cheese. Poach two eggs, lay them on a bed of spinach and add a few blue cheese crumbles. Roast some veggies, dump them into a tortilla and add a few slices of mozzarella.

(As you can tell, everything gets cheese.)

So when I found a “recipe” on Pinterest for spaghetti aglio, olio, e peperoncino, I expected to love it.  I made it for lunch on a recent Saturday, expecting to save a second serving for a weekday lunch. Then I ate both servings.

Translated, the dish is spaghetti with garlic, oil, and chili pepper flakes, and I cannot begin to describe how simplistically delicious it is.

Spaghetti aglio, olio, e peperoncino
(spaghetti with garlic, oil, and chili pepper flakes)
Original recipe from Yum Sugar. Serves 2 to 4.

7 ounces spaghetti
2 large (or 3 small) garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons of chili pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

– Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package, until it is al dente.
– Strain spaghetti and place in a large serving dish.
– Add minced garlic, chili pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix together well.
– Serve warm or at room temperature.

My tip, having made this four times in the past three weeks? Don’t measure. Just mince some garlic, add some chili pepper flakes (I used red pepper flakes, but they’re similar if not the same), and some olive oil to your spaghetti. Then taste it. That way, you can adjust for your spice preference.

And for goodness sake, do not forget the salt and pepper. Every single time I’ve made this dish, I sit down and take a bite and think “Wow, not as good as I remember it. What the heck.” And it never fails: I have always forgotten the salt and pepper. In a meal this simple, it makes all the difference.

As for the cheese — I was tempted to add some freshly grated Parmesan. It’s just so yummy! But I refrained, and the dish stands out on its own. So as an avid cheese lover, I will say: Skip it. Enjoy the simplicity of an Italian original.

If you feel bad eating a bowl of pasta for dinner, first choose a whole wheat variety. Then add a salad. Then live it up and chow down — it’s worth it.

Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.

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2 Responses

  1. Joan says:

    OK, here’s a bonus pop quiz. Do you know how you pronounce “aglio e olio”? Ask Chris Otto, who had to learn that when he became part of our very Italian family.

    Also, real Italians put parm or asiago on it. Sorry :)

  2. Sarah Chain says:

    Noo! I thought I was being so authentic in forgoing cheese. Clearly, I am not a real Italian… thanks for the insider tip :)

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