Spaghetti aglio, olio, peperoncino

Spaghetti aglio, olio, peperoncino

Modern Italian Food
Earl Carter

Spaghetti simply dressed with olive oil, garlic, flat-leaf parsley and a scattering of chilli flakes has been around since the proverbial cocky was an egg. This brilliant dish has not made it to the Australian repertoire of Italian dishes because Australians tend to not venerate spaghetti – we regard it as just another pasta option among many, nothing more, nothing less.

And yet spaghetti is so much more, especially spaghetti cooked properly al dente. In one of my previous books, I waxed lyrical about properly cooked spaghetti with butter. Naturally, instead of butter, one can also use olive oil – cholesterol free – and that other herb, garlic. For those who are interested, spaghetti is also ‘Atkins approved’ in the second stage of this popular low carbohydrate diet.

Spaghetti aglio olio is a great party dish. When we entertain in large numbers and some type of fodder is needed to soak up alcohol, spaghetti aglio olio fits the bill. The aroma of fried garlic and chilli takes over the house and creates a great food atmosphere. In Italy it is often called spaghetti di mezzanotte, or midnight spaghetti, precisely because the dish is perfect when the munchies hit late at night.


Quantity Ingredient
500g spaghetti
200ml good quality virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, or more to taste
plenty fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
freshly grated parmesan


  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt it with at least 1 tablespoon of salt per litre of water. Cook the spaghetti until al dente, drain well and tip into a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic until golden brown. Add the chilli flakes to taste and remove from the heat. Add the hot oil and parsley to the spaghetti and toss well. If you like your pasta a little more moist, add more olive oil or reserve a few tablespoons of the cooking water to stir through. Serve with cheese on the side so people may help themselves.
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