Spaghetti Aglio e Olio e Peperoncino

from Night Lunch

If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll go for spaghetti aglio e olio e pepperoncino. I had a recipe book long ago, and the description of this pasta in it always stayed with me. It was something like: In Italy, an elegant host will prepare this simple pasta for his guests after the opera or as a quick midnight snack. I always aspired to be just such an elegant host. Suffice to say, that was a little too aspirational, but I can make a rather decent version of this pasta, so if I ever find myself hosting a post-opera midnight gathering, I’m all set. 


1 lb dried spaghetti
Salt (enough to season your pasta water)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
Sliced and seeded fresh red chili peppers to taste (or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes if you don’t have fresh ones)
½ cup reserved pasta water
½ cup chopped parsley
4 fillets of anchovies (optional)


In a medium pot bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt to taste (it should taste almost as salty as the sea). Add the pasta and cook it for 1 minute less than the suggested cooking time.

While the pasta is cooking add half of the olive oil and garlic to a large sauté pan. On medium heat, cook the garlic until it gets very fragrant and translucent (making sure not to burn it). Add the crushed red chili flakes to the pan and let them cook for 1 minute, then add a generous spoonful of pasta water.

When al dente, strain the pasta and add it to the sauté pan right away. Cook for another minute in the pan, then add the parsley and the rest of the extra virgin olive oil and give it a nice toss in the pan until everything is incorporated. The water-sauce will combine with the extra virgin olive to create a perfect emulsion of oil, water, and starch.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: I like using fresh pasta – drop it in the water just as you add the peppers…it only takes a few minutes to cook fresh. This is a great base recipe to add veggies or proteins. A great way to use up leftovers! 

Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino – Italian Kitchen Club

Inspired by Eric Fan at