Pasta all’ Aglio e Olio | The Simplest of Spaghetti Dishes

It must be the simplest dish in the world.


Sometimes the simplest is just the best way of cooking and eating a dish. Elizabeth David, for example, was a great proponent of that style. And it is in the simplest of dishes that we train our palate, noticing slight nuanced differences in taste between, say, this olive oil with that pasta, or a different pasta. Or a different olive oil. I read about a cooking school once where they spend 3 weeks just on potatoes, so that the subtleties of the tastes variations became familiar to the students.

This recipe is the simplest of pasta recipes, and one that you will want to make often. There are no quantities given, you can alter them until you find the ratios that work best for your pasta and your olive oil.

Different versions of this can be found all over Italy – it is a dish that most families enjoy at least once a week – often it is a Monday night supper. We make it with spaghetti.

Are you looking for Pasta recipes? Try making our Home Made Eggless Pasta, and our Home Made Zeffirino Pesto.

Similar recipes include Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes, Capunti Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes, Penne with Broad Beans and Ricotta, Fettuccine with Cheese and Pepper, and Orzo Pasta Salad with Spinach and Pine Nuts.

You might also like to read Why we Cook Pasta al dente.

Or browse all of our pasta recipes, and our Italian recipes. Or find inspiration as you explore our Early Autumn recipes.


Pasta all’Aglio e Olio | The Simplest of Spaghetti Dishes

Great pasta. Red Chilli. The best Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Garlic. Sea Salt. Freshly ground black pepper. Nothing more required.


recipe notes and alternatives
Add chopped tomatoes and soft herbs such as basil.

Parsley is also great with this dish, as is basil. Use a handful per 2 people.

A great fruity or lemony extra virgin olive oil suits this dish.

You can also add finely grated lemon zest, chopped capers and/or stoned olives.




Author: Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.

19 thoughts on “Pasta all’ Aglio e Olio | The Simplest of Spaghetti Dishes”

  1. Mmmm! This pasta looks delish.

    It’s funny how the simplest ingredients can sometimes create the best meals… especially when it comes to pasta.

    Hi jd, I am all for max flavour, min time and effort. This is one of the best.


  2. i’ll add the lemon zest to mine, too. and i probably like a little more (or a lot more) garlic than most.

    i bet this smelled obscene when you were cooking it.

    Hi Michelle. No cooking involved (except for the pasta), but it smells so wonderful as the olive oil and garlic hits the hot pasta. Lemon zest for you it is, then.


  3. Could you fed-ex it if I send you my address :). It looks so good and bet tastes awesome too. Thats how I like my pasta – simple and not too much sauce

    Absolutely, it is on its way. No real sauce involved in this one – the oil coats the pasta and the rest adds the flavour. It is delicious.


  4. for got to mention. My aunt makes it the same way but i think she adds basil too

    basil is real good with this, but if basil is not available, add parsley or even a little green coriander (cilantro). A touch of marjoram or oregano would go well to. Lemon Thyme. Rosemary. Just adjust your proportions to the herb.


  5. its always the simple meals which are best and also comforting 🙂

    Yes, comforting. That is what this dish is. Very much so. Thanks, sia.


  6. yum! simple is great! I don’t think I use chili as much as I should. I love your photos.

    Hi Ginny, so simple yet so delicious. Chilli is good, and it is surprising what it can “add value” to. Along with garlic and ginger, it is a food item that is always sitting on my kitchen bench. You can tell this by the amount of photographs I take that feature chilli. 🙂


  7. My recipe is quite close. I use everything you use in yours. The only herb I use is, though, basil. Nothing more.

    I heat the oil, add chopped garlic. Let it infuse the oil. Remove garlic as it was just used to perfume the oil (I’ll add it later but wouldn’t cook it for long time else it’ll become burnt and bitter). Then, semi-cook tomato dices. Turn the cooker off when the tomato dices have just released juice. Add salt and the garlic that was discarded earlier. Pour onto the pasta. Some basil leaves from the patch. Et voilà!

    Thanks, colienne. Your recipe sounds delish.


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