Northside SF  

October '09

Home Recipe from Susan Dyer Reynolds
By Susan Dyer Reynolds

Most kids get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a snack; I got aglio e olio, or garlic and olive oil pasta. My Sicilian grandfather made it for me often during those glorious summers in Rhode Island, and my mom made it for me at home in the Silicon Valley after a long softball practice or a painful breakup.

Neither of them ever wrote anything down, and I never thought much about the recipe … it’s just a few ingredients, what could go wrong? But when I started making it myself, I discovered that, like many classic Italian dishes, it is deceptively simple.

The key to aglio e olio: attaining perfect balance between the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and pepper flakes. The secret to aglio e olio: making it many, many times. This is my go-to comfort dish, and I think I finally have the ratio right.

Grandpa Lorenzo’s Aglio e Olio
(Serves 4)

1 pound dry pasta (preferably spaghettini or angel hair)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pecorino cheese, freshly grated (you may substitute Parmesan)
Salt to taste

Cook pasta al dente (so there is just a bit of resistance when you bite it).

Put the olive oil and the garlic in a large skillet over a medium heat. When the garlic begins to turn golden, add the parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir well and remove from heat.
When the pasta is cooked, return the skillet to a low heat.

Drain the pasta, leaving about a tablespoon of water in the pot, and add to the skillet. Toss until the pasta is well coated with sauce.

Top with the freshly grated cheese and serve.



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