Bucatini Aglio e Olio
Having just returned from a three week trip to Italy, we are still craving pasta, and our favorite pasta recipe is Bucatini Aglio e Olio. (Here are a couple of photos from my Italy 2018 trip report … The roof of Duomo di Milano and our hometown of La Morra in the Piemonte wine country).
Upon our return from our Christmas week 2009 journey to Rome, we started making the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, which is made with garlic (aglio), olive oil (olio), red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.
We make this all the time (yes, we, even Tom makes it on occasion) especially when we manage to pick up some fresh bucatini from Domenico’s Food (great fresh pasta and sauces!!) at our local farmers’ market. You can also find it online. Tom ordered three packages of fresh bucatini and a package of cheese ravioli (he must be going through Italy withdrawal). The package was delivered between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and was waiting on the front porch when we got up.
Bucatini is a spaghetti with a hole running through the center that absorbs more of this delicious, simple sauce and is my absolute favorite pasta.
The key to this sauce is the pasta water which makes a rich, silky, creamy sauce that clings to the pasta. Carefully scoop out the water near the end of the cooking process (not at the beginning as you need the water to be starchy). I have included directions for using dried pasta; please note if you use fresh pasta it only takes 2-3 minutes to cook. [Quick comment on the ingredient photo … that is fresh pasta from Domenico’s, however, as noted the recipe below is for dried pasta.]
Optional and definitely not in a traditional aglio e olio … sometimes I toss in chopped prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and a few julienned fresh basil leaves at the end while the pasta is resting. Other times shallots and pancetta finds its way into the mix.
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover ingredients in your refrigerator. This recipe is so delicious, fast and easy you will be making it all the time. With or without the extra ingredients, Aglio e Olio is sure to become a family favorite.
1 lb. dried pasta (Bucatini or a thick spaghetti)
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
6-8 large garlic cloves, cut into slivers (in a pinch use frozen Trader Joes Garlic Cubes)
1/2 t. (or more) crushed red pepper flakes)
1 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese
Italian big leaf parsley, chopped for optional garnish
Bring a large pot of well-salted (2 T. salt) water to a boil.
Add the dry pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions pulling it off the heat a few minutes before it is al dente and drain. Not to worry, the pasta will continue cooking in the garlic sauce. Before draining, carefully scoop out one cup of the pasta water and set aside.
While the pasta is boiling, heat 3 T. olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan large and deep enough to hold the cooked pasta. Add the garlic to the sauté pan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until it just begins to turn golden (about 2 minutes) … don’t overcook it or it will be bitter. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more.
Carefully add the reserved pasta water. (If your pasta is not yet boiling, remove the garlic mixture from heat to wait for the pasta water.) Lower the heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the liquid is reduced by about a third.
Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir as it continues to cook over low heat until it’s al dente and has absorbed most of the liquid. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. Garnish with chopped Italian big leaf parsley and extra cheese if desired.
Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That.