William Elliott Hinson
Pasta Aglio e Olio
Pasta Aglio e Olio is a traditional Italian pasta dish featuring garlic and olive oil. It traditionally only has seven ingredients: pasta, garlic, olive oil, red pepper, black pepper, lemon, and parsley. I like to add parmesan and nutmeg for some added creaminess and flavor, but they can be omitted for a more traditional Italian taste. This dish really benefits from high-quality ingredients, so do not cheap out when it comes to the pasta or the olive oil. You will really be able to taste the difference.
Fresh pasta (I like fettuccini)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
Bring just enough water to cover the pasta to a boil. Salt like the ocean. Add pasta to boiling water and cook just shy of the time listed on the packaging. Reserve a quarter cup of pasta water and drain pasta.
While pasta is boiling, heat a quarter cup of olive oil in a skillet on medium-low heat. Peel garlic and slice thinly. Add to the oil when shimmering. Good on medium-low until just starting to brown around the edges.
When garlic is just starting to brown, add in a pinch of red pepper flakes and a few twists of black pepper. Remove from heat.
When pasta is done, put oil and garlic mixture back on low heat. Add pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and grate in a quarter cup of parmesan cheese and a half teaspoon of fresh nutmeg. Add a splash of pasta water and toss to combine. Add pasta water as needed until the sauce comes together and looks creamy.
Finely chop the parsley and add in about a quarter cup. Salt and pepper to taste. Optionally twist pasta with a meat fork and plate into a bowl. Garnish with more parmesan, black pepper, and flakey salt.