Other than wishing someone “Good day” and “Bye” in Italian, my knowledge of this beautiful language is pretty much limited to penne, ravioli, orecchiette, spaghetti, linguine etc., I am sure you know where I am going with this! The names of different shaped pastas coupled with other gems like zuppa or soup, insalata or salad, Bruschetta and other recipes make up my extremely limited Italian vocabulary…Ahem! Anyways this apart, I got fascinated with the recipe “Aglio E Olio” some years ago! Thank you Rachel Ray!
So, “Aglio E Olio” means garlic in oil and is basically a very simple recipe involving a ton of spaghetti, garlic, oil, cheese, parsley and pepper flakes! If I remember correctly from some show that I saw years ago (I think it was Rachel Ray), it is whipped up as a quick late night snack (seriously!!) or a late night dinner when citizens of beautiful Italy, get back home late and need something to eat. Imagine, getting back from a night of clubbing voraciously hungry and quickly making something at home to take care of your stomach.
But the fact is I am Indian, don’t go clubbing and hate having late dinners! Plus I don’t have fancy ingredients like parsley, parmesan or spaghetti lying around. But today was different – I had a spaghetti type pasta called fusilli col buco and parmesan, thanks to a potluck lunch at husband’s office. Still I had no parsley, but I had spinach. And I figured I could make a bare minimal pasta dish a bit healthy and enjoy it guilt free! So, I made this for the first time ever and it was great! My guess is that you can make this healthier by using a whole grain variety of pasta. So if you are in a mood for something at home with minimal effort don’t look further!
What you need
- 250 grams dried spaghetti or some noodle type of pasta like linguine
- 1 C chopped spinach – I used a lot of spinach, you can use less if u don’t like it or use parsley. The authentic version calls for parsley. About 1/4 c should do for 250 grams of pasta.
- 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic. An authentic recipe would use more garlic, but I can’t take more than 2 tiny ones! So if u love garlic use more.
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper – This was my addition. so you can ignore this if you prefer!
- Salt to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese for seasoning. When I don’t have parmesan which I usually don’t, I use amul cheese! It is a great substitute.
- 1 tbsp of finely chopped celery – Again, I used this only because I had it! You can omit this.
How it is done
- Cook the pasta as per the instructions on he box
- Heat the olive oil and when it is hot add the garlic.
- After about 30 seconds, add the red pepper flakes. Stir them around for a few seconds and add the spinach, salt and black pepper (if using)
- When the spinach starts wilting, cook for few more minutes and add the pasta and mix well.
- Serve topped with parmesan or any favorite cheese! A salty cheese will taste best with for the recipe!
Now wasn’t that easy -peasy?? If you try it out let me know. If you came up with your own variations let me know so that I can try too! But remember, simplicity is the goal behind this recipe.