Welcome to Italy – Spaghetti Aglio, olio e peperoncino

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

Apart from my own country’s (Indian) spicy food, I am also very fond of Italian food. My love for Italian food was developed when we (me and my hubby) went on our Roman Holiday across Italy for 2 weeks way back in early 2011 – so many different varieties of pizzas, pastas, breads, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, olive oil, cheese, balsamic vinegar and house-wines that it was really hard not to fell in love with Italian cuisine!

Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino is a traditional Italian pasta dish which means spaghetti with Aglio (garlic), Olio (olive oil) and Peperoncino (chilli). Fresh garlic, good olive oil and a great Parmesan cheese are key for great flavours. Traditionally, cheese is not added but I have used a little Parmesan cheese. This is the easiest and quickest Italian classic Italian pasta dish – and it is definitely not ugly, as Aglio may point to be (if translated in Hindi) 🙂

Though I cook very good Indian food (I would like to believe so), I was very afraid to cook any Italian dish as I was not that not confident. I picked up the challenge one fine day – my iPad and google being my friends on the mission – and finalised a sensible recipe for this very easy and tasty pasta. I was very happy that day, as my first attempt on Italian food came out very well.

If any of you guys also fancy eating a true Italian pasta but are not confident enough then just follow this recipe – trust me, you will love it!

The ingredients for Spaghetti Aglio, olio e pepperoncino are:
1. Spaghetti: 500 grams
2. Green Pepper (bell pepper/capsicum) : 1/2 (chopped)
3. Red Chilli : 2 (chopped)
4. Garlic : 6 cloves (round, very thin slice)
5. Black olives : 1 cup (pitted, sliced)
6. Fresh tomato : 4-5 (finely chopped) Or  Sun dried tomato : 1 1/2 cup
7. Basil leaves (fresh) : 10-15
8. Red Chilli flakes : 1 tsp
9. Salt : 1 tsp
10. Italian seasoning/ dried oregano : 1/2 tsp
11. Dried Parsley/ Basil/ Thyme : 1/2 tsp
12. Olive oil : 3-4 Tbsp
13. Parmesan cheese : as desired
14. Black Pepper : as required

Method :

Heat water in a pan; bring it to boil and then add 1 Tbsp salt, few drops olive oil and the spaghetti. Cook spaghetti on medium flame, while stirring occasionally; cook until al dente (should be cooked but still have a bite). Generally it takes 8-10 minutes, but be careful not to overcook the pasta. Drain the pasta and keep 1 cup of pasta water.

Heat oil in a pan on low flame; add garlic and when garlic starts to turn golden add red chilli & green pepper. Sauté till pepper softens a little bit.

**If you are using fresh tomatoes then cook them until all tomatoes get mashed and dried. Then add olives just before the tomatoes is done.

**If you are using sun dried tomatoes then add tomatoes and olives and, sauté for couple of minutes.

Add spaghetti in the pan along with salt and Italian herbs (be very careful with salt as we have already added salt in the pasta, and we will also be adding cheese to it) and, toss it well.

If pasta is looking dry, add some pasta water ( which we have saved earlier, while boiling the pasta).

Now add fresh basil leaves and toss it. Serve in a plate and sprinkle some black pepper and some fresh Parmesan cheese (grated) over it. The Italian delicacy is ready to be enjoyed !!

Insider Tips / Finer Points :

  • After draining  the spaghetti, wash spaghetti under cold water so that it will not stick with each other and does not make lumps.

  • You may also use boiled/steamed vegetables in this for a variation.

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