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  • Writer's pictureRomyL

Spaghetti Aglio Olio E Peperoncino

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

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I will argue the coming point until I drop - traditional doesn't always equal better. Hear me out; it often does, especially if you are in the country of origin and some venerable grandmother is making her coveted century-old dish. However, to claim that adding things to a traditional dish is *wrong* or *ruins the dish* is just absolute poppycock. If an ingredient heightens or compliments the dish then where's the lie? Don't get me wrong, I would enjoy a Spaghetti Aglio e Olio without lemon or parmesan any day of the week. According to the internet overlords, that's the completely, unadulterated, traditional way. I'm going to enjoy it more with a splash of lemon and a sprinkling (heaping) of parmesan though. That's just my preferred way to eat it and penalise me all you'd like, I'm sticking to my guns.

This dish has stood the test of time for the plain fact that it is as moorish as it is easy. I could eat 4 portions in one sitting. That may seem excessive but it is the plight of this dish; we sacrifice common sense for pleasure (a universally familiar quandary no?). I imagine this is my version of drinking seven $25 espresso martinis because they're made with Belgian chocolate and some sort of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk magic bean. I don't like coffee but I've seen friends hoover those things down like they're becoming obsolete. What I'm trying to articulate is this is a death-row dish and don't fight me on it.



  • 230g of Spaghetti¹

  • 4 tablespoons of quality olive oil

  • 6 large cloves of garlic

  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes

  • 3/4 cup of pasta water

  • Cracked black pepper

  • 1/4-1/3 cup of finely chopped parsley

  • Juice from 1/4 of a lemon (optional)

  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan (optional)


  1. Halve your garlic cloves lengthways and remove the germ² of the garlic. Then really thinly slice the garlic.

  2. To a skillet, add your olive oil and thinly sliced garlic. Place this over a medium-low heat to slowly infuse the garlic flavour into the oil. Meanwhile, place your spaghetti into a pot of boiling, salted³ water and cook it until it is about 70% done. This means your spaghetti will still be hard in the centre - it may feel like you are taking the pasta out too early but it will finish cooking in the sauce and taste so much better.

  3. When your garlic is fragrant but not browning add in your chilli flakes and sauté for 1-2 minutes. If your garlic starts to brown at all, remove the pan from the heat and add a splash of cold water to stop the garlic from cooking.

  4. Add in your pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, and stir until the sauce has come together. Then add your spaghetti in (no need to drain it first) and toss the spaghetti around constantly. Add in a large crack of black pepper, half of your chopped parsley, and your lemon juice. Continue to cook the sauce until the spaghetti is al dente then remove it from the heat.

  5. Serve the Aglio Olio e Peperoncino with parmesan and season to taste. Enjoy!


  1. You could use another long, thin pasta but don't use a short-cut pasta as the sauce won't adhere to it the way you need it to. I would stick to spaghetti if you can as it will give you the best results.

  2. If you are unsure of what the germ of the garlic is, click the link to see how to remove it. This stage isn't strictly necessary but it will make a difference in the taste of your sauce as the germ adds a bitter tone to the oil that can take away from the subtle flavours of the dish.

  3. The rule of thumb with salting pasta water is about 1/2 a tablespoon for every 250 grams of pasta. This may vary if you have a naturally salty sauce such as a Guanciale-based carbonara.

Stay Salty,

Romy xx

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