I grew up with the smell of olive oil and garlic.
That statement defines “stating the obvious” when you browse the recipes I share here on Mutt & Chops. And this dish in particular represents my childhood in Brazil in a way that few others can.
Olive oil and garlic spaghetti, also known in Portuguese as macarrão alho e óleo, is actually a very basic pasta preparation originating in Naples (spaghetti aglio e olio). And it has become so much a part of the Brazilian culinary experience that we claim it as a cultural dish.
I’m going on record to state that THIS IS FAR AND AWAY MY FAVORITE WAY TO EAT SPAGHETTI!!!!
I’m not sure I could be more clear about how I feel about olive oil and garlic spaghetti. It is just about the simplest and yet most amazing dish ever. It makes me want to groan with pleasure, dance with happiness, and wallow in excess. I greatly curb my carbs, but I cannot make this and NOT eat it.
My mom made this for us when we were children. When I graduated high school and worked in Brazil for a year before coming to the US for college, my mother would often have olive oil and garlic spaghetti waiting for me when I came home from work for lunch.
It was probably only one of two things I could cook from scratch when I married Steve. And since we married, I have addicted not only my sweet husband, but both my sons, and apparently, now my future daughter-in-law, Shania. It is impossible to eat olive oil and garlic spaghetti without falling head over heels…unless you don’t like garlic. In which case, you won’t find much on Mutt & Chops to your liking. I am truly, very sorry.
Now, imagine how I was shocked to hear from Steve that I had not yet posted this recipe.
As bloggers, we may sometimes focus on trendy, glitzy recipes and food choices, and maybe sometimes lose focus when it comes to the perfection that were the simple, magical food experiences of our youth. You know, that fifteen-minute meal with 4 ingredients that can knock your socks off without even trying? That’s this dish.
Let’s make olive oil and garlic spaghetti
This is all you need for your new comfort food addiction. So, let’s not spend too much time here. It’s time to cook.
Uh, actually, my understanding is that in Italy, they sometimes add red pepper flakes. But that’s not how mom made it, so I’m walking away from the red pepper flakes.
Cook your pasta in salted boiling water with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking, until al dente. About 10 minutes, depending on your cook top.
If you’ve heard that term and get annoyed because you had to look up what it meant, then let me help you out a bit. Al dente is achieved at that point where, when you taste the pasta, it no longer leaves grains of raw dough in the crevices of the crowns of your teeth, nor is it starting to get soft and mushy. Al dente means still firm, but fully cooked.
Get it out of the boiling water immediately and strain it. Cool it down with cold water to prevent it from cooking further, and drizzle and stir in a bit of olive oil over it to keep it from sticking together.
Place the pot used to cook the pasta back on the burner, but don’t turn it on yet.
Add olive oil and chopped garlic, then turn the burner on to medium low or low. Stir and sauté just until the oil starts to bubble around the chopped garlic and your house smells like a little bit of garlic and olive oil heaven, or more specifically, the smell of my childhood.
Add the cooked spaghetti and stir to distribute the olive oil and garlic.
Salt to taste.
Continue stirring to warm the spaghetti back up, but again, over low heat. You want to retain that beautiful al dente texture without over-cooking the pasta and making it tough.
Turn off the burner and add the chopped parsley. Stir to distribute evenly.
Then plate that baby and dive into one of the most beautifully simple yet amazing dishes ever invented by man (in the general human sense, not necessarily the gender sense).
Drizzle some olive oil over the top and, if you like, add some shredded Parmigiano Reggiano.
Regular parmesan cheese works just fine, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have Parmigiano Reggiano. We just happen to love it and always have it on hand.
Speaking of man, the one I am married to was not waiting. He dove right in. Making “hmmmm, hmmmmm, hmmmm” noises the entire time.
When I think of sharing recipes, I often think of the delicious ones with which I grew up. Ones that may not be that common here in the US. My hope is that others will fall in love with them and add them to their day-to-day lives. Olive oil and garlic spaghetti is a flagship for the kinds of recipes I want to share.
I am so glad Steve reminded me to go back to the basics. Back to the love of food and simple eating.
Olive Oil and Garlic Spaghetti
- 1/2 pound dry spaghetti
- 1/4 cup quality extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 3 garlic cloves diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- Shredded Parmesan optional
- Cook your pasta in salted boiling water with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking, until al dente.
- Strain it then cool it down with cold water to prevent it from cooking further. Add a drizzle of olive oil and stir the pasta to keep it from sticking together.
- Place the pot used to cook the pasta back on the burner, but don't turn it on yet.
- Add olive oil and chopped garlic, then turn the burner on to medium low or low. Stir and sauté just until the oil starts to bubble around the chopped garlic and it becomes aromatic.
- Add the cooked spaghetti and stir to distribute the olive oil and garlic.
- Salt to taste.
- Continue stirring over low heat to warm the spaghetti back up, Once warm, turn off the burner and add the chopped parsley. Stir to distribute evenly.
- Serve plain or with shredded parmesan on top.