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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino Recipe | Plus Some Italian-Approved Variations

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino is one of the simplest pasta dishes there is. It's so simple that the name is simply a list of the ingredients: garlic, olive oil and chili pepper (omitting the salt and spaghetti, of course). Add another ingredient, and the dish is no longer aglio, olio e peperoncino!


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Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino Recipe | Authentic Italian Pasta

That doesn't mean that there aren't some other pasta dishes that are very similar, but with the addition of a twist or two. Here we'll explain how to make the classic pasta, plus some ideas of different "variations" you can try.


There will be absolutely no ingredient measurements below. This dish is the Italian midnight snack and there is certainly no "right amount" of anything. Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like.


Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make these recipes here:




For this recipe, you will need:

  • Garlic

  • Chili pepper, fresh or dried (red chili flakes will work just fine)

  • Salt

  • Spaghetti

  • Extra virgin olive oil

Prep the garlic by slicing each clove in half and pulling out the inner, green core. Discard this and finely dice the remaining garlic. If using whole chili pepper(s), thinly slice it.


Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it generously. Add the spaghetti and cook as directed, but set a timer for 2-3 minutes less than the recommended "al dente" cook time.


Place the garlic and pepper in a skillet, along with plenty of olive oil. Bring up to medium heat. Let the garlic sizzle in the oil for just a minute or two, then turn off the heat. It doesn't need long and you don't want to burn it!


When the pasta is nearly done, add a ladleful of pasta water into the skillet, turn the heat back on and bring the sauce to a simmer. Using tongs or a spaghetti fork, transfer the pasta into the skillet and stir over medium/high heat until the spaghetti is al dente to your taste. Ladle in more pasta water as needed to maintain enough moisture for the pasta to keep cooking.


Serve and eat immediately, drizzled with extra oil from the pan. Buon appetito!



Tomato Paste

Variation #1: Tomato Paste


This is probably our favorite "variation." Instead of dicing the garlic, just peel the clove(s), core it, and add the two halves directly into the pan with the oil and pepper. When you turn off the heat, remove the garlic and stir in a ladleful of pasta water and a few spoonfuls of tomato paste.


Finish as you would with Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino.



Tuna

Variation #2: Tuna


For this seafood twist, you will need a very high quality canned tuna fish. It should be whole chunk under oil. Use a fork to break it up into small flakes.


Instead of dicing the garlic, just peel the clove(s), core it, and add the two halves directly into the pan with the oil and pepper. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tuna into the pan, along with a ladleful of pasta water. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook while the pasta finishes boiling, continuing to add more water as needed to maintain moisture in the pan.


Finish as you would with Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino.



Ricotta

Variation #3: Ricotta


Instead of dicing the garlic, just peel the clove(s), core it, and add the two halves directly into the pan with the oil and pepper. When you turn off the heat, remove the garlic and stir in ricotta cheese and just enough pasta water to thin the cheese into a sauce.


Finish as you would with Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, but top the pasta with some grated lemon zest.



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