Simple spaghetti aglio e olio

Tomorrow, my son heads back to school.  For us, it's the unofficial signal that summer is over...and, as usual, the feeling is a little bittersweet.  

I'll miss the freedom of summer, that attitude of not taking anything - from schedules to "to-do" lists - too seriously.  We trade that in for a world filled with a little more structure and routine once again. I'm not altogether against that so I have mixed emotions.  What I resolve to do is accept and appreciate.  I actually enjoy the change in seasons, having different things to look forward to at different times of the year.  And as we all know, the clock continues to tick (quickly) and given the inevitability of it, it's best to simply embrace it.
It's time for simple - simple and easy meals like spaghetti with garlic and oil
While I'm sorting out all my feeling and organizing schedules, I thought I'd drop in here with a simple pasta dish.  Spaghetti aglio e olio, or spaghetti with garlic and oil, is one of my all-time favorites.  This version calls for anchovies and I think it's all the better, more flavorful, because of it.  It's one of those almost-pantry pasta dishes that I love to whip up when I want something easy yet hearty and comforting to eat.  I call it "almost" pantry pasta because of the parsley - it's kind of a must-have in this dish and for me, that often requires a trip to the grocery store.  Since I go to the grocery store several times a week, it's not much of an issue for me.  

All the talk about spaghetti carbonara recently had me thinking about this simple pasta - inexpensive and quick, yet tasty and reliable enough for company or just as a quick dinner when you're busy like we all will be heading into the Fall.
The pasta is really flavorful all on its own but add more protein if you like
The last time we had this, about a week or so ago, I had some meatballs on hand so I plopped a few on the side for the fellas.  This pasta is great with some protein but I love it just as it is, with nothing else.  The anchovies and garlic, not to mention some good olive oil, packs the pasta with a lot more flavor than you might expect.  

Maybe this is already a family favorite of yours...or maybe you have other quick-easy-and-delicious dishes up your sleeve for the busy months ahead.  If that's the case, please share!


Not every recipe for spaghetti aglio e olio calls for anchovies but this one I use does.  So...I guess this would be the time when I tell you that you shouldn't shy away from anchovies, that if you don't think you like anchovies, you have to try it anyway because it doesn't taste fishy at all.  We've all heard it a million times but it's all true, if you ask me.  I always keep anchovies in my pantry and it's a terrific "secret" ingredient, or a great way to add some complex saltiness, to many dishes.

Aside from anchovy filets, you obviously need plenty of garlic and good olive oil.  Those ingredients, along with some red pepper flakes and fresh parsley, create something magically delicious yet simple.
Here's to eating well this Fall, and in every season!


Recipe:

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Spaghetti with Garlic & Oil) 
Adapted from Rachael Ray

- Serves approximately 4 to 6 - 

1 pound dry spaghetti (I like the De Cecco brand)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 anchovy filets
6 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
Crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper, for seasoning

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt generously and add spaghetti.  Cook until just al dente, according to package instructions.  

While pasta is cooking, place olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add anchovy filets and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes.  Stir and cook until anchovies meld into the oil, about 1 1/2 minutes. Lower the heat, add garlic and stir together until just fragrant  (be careful not to burn the garlic).  Add cooked spaghetti, a ladle of the pasta cooking water, and most of the parsley.  Toss everything together for a minute so the pasta gets a chance to absorb the flavors (you can add a bit more pasta water, if needed).  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Taste and season further with salt and pepper, as desired.

Mound pasta onto bowls and serve immediately, with a sprinkle of the reserved parsley on top.


    





50 comments:

  1. I love a simple pasta dish! It's so crazy that summer is practically over - time is really just flying by these days!

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    1. Pasta dishes are such lifesavers - tasty, inexpensive, quick, filling...can't beat it! I have to stop being amazed by how quickly time is passing - but the other day, even another child was telling me he couldn't believe how quick time was passing. Is it some sort of new phenomenon or what!

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  2. Happy back to school day (for both of you!) :) you're right about it being bittersweet: certainly there are pros and cons to summer and to the routine of the school year, and i've been trying to embrace the good stuff about right now myself. I love this dish! So true about anchovies being an excellent secret ingredient: i'm not a huge fan of them say, thrown on pizza, but in pizza sauce, and caesar dressing, etc? The best; just a flavor you can't duplicate with anything else.

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    1. I agree with you for sure! Love my anchovies for cooking. Thank you, Shannon, and here's to easing into Fall...

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  3. I love this simple dish. It reminds me the good old days in Japan. They use very fresh and handmade pasta too cook this dish, and it was so delicious. I never made this at home before, because it's difficult to get fresh parsley here. It's interesting to know that I should add anchovy. I guess it will make the olive oil even better. Will definitely try this out some time!

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    1. I went to Japan once for a vacation and the pastas were one of the tastiest things (although everything is so tasty!). Hope you try this out when you have some fresh parsley! : )

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  4. This is one of my all-time favorite dinners. It's simple, but so satisfying! Good luck with all things back to school :)

    Sues

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    1. Don't you just love the simplicity! And so satisfying - you totally said it! And thank you...could always use some good luck! : )

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  5. Simple meals are usually the best. Your pasta looks very tasty with garlic and oil.

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    1. And it's the simple/easy meals you can pull together and make all the time so you do cook more and that's so important. Thanks, Angie.

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  6. Nothing wrong with simple dishes - those are usually my favorite :) Love the sound of this pasta dish - it looks satisfying and tasty. Can't believe summer is over so soon this year - hope your son has a great first day at school :)

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. I hope your family's doing well and everyone eases into their new routines and schedules in the Fall, too!

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  7. Love simple and pasta - a match made in heaven. The days they do fly - way too fast sometimes.

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    1. Agreed...and somehow it feels better knowing and accepting that time does fly so you enjoy every moment a bit more.

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  8. Beautiful simple pasta and beautiful photos with perfect sunlight.. the little bit left before fall is in full gear. Life is just lots more chaotic once school starts and we need this simple dishes to get us through the first few weeks. Maybe it is not chaotic but going from no schedule to a rigid one takes some getting used to. Jus shared! Take care, BAM

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    1. Thanks for sharing, BAM! You're so right...it's just an adjustment period right now. I can't complain.

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  9. Hi Monica! This pasta looks delicious. SImple and satisfying and flavorful. And I imagine I'll have the same mix of emotions that you do when we finally send Lulu back to school. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hey Monet! Thanks and hope ease into your busy Fall schedule. And enjoy the "early years" with Lulu. : )

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  10. Such a beautiful and simple pasta filled with amazing flavor!!

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    1. Thanks, Jocelyn. Easy & tasty works for me, too.

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  11. Hope your son has a wonderful first day of school! My kids have already been in school for 2 weeks. I hate the quiet house but it does feel nice to get back into a routine.
    We are all about quick and easy dinners when school starts back. Love this pasta dish!

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    1. It went very well, thank you! Hope your kids are doing well and have a wonderful school year!

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  12. I love the simplicity of this dish! Looks and sounds delicious!!

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    1. It's full of flavor and you know how comforting a bowl of noodles is! :)

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  13. The beauty of a dish like this is in its simplicity - all of the flavors area allowed to shine. And I also love the meatballs that you served with it.

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    1. Having a little extra protein never hurts, right! Thank you!

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  14. This is one of my favorite pasta dishes! So simple and yet so so good.

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    1. Quick & easy plus delicious is the ultimate kind of recipe. Thanks, Joanne.

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  15. I'm always a tad bit sad when school starts back up. The crazy schedules and tons of homework...not fun! Hope you son had a good first day back.
    This pasta is simple and so delicious. I need this in my life!

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    1. Everything's going very well, thank you! Pasta is a lifesaver. : )

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  16. I have a few more months left before I get into the crazy school schedules and such. I can see that it's going to a be a big change. Pasta and noodles are always my go-to dishes. And garlic is something which I cannot do without. This is a fabulously flavourful dish, simple yet so elegant I would like to have mine with a little parmesan though...another ingredient I just have to use on my pasta:-) Wish you and your little one a great start to the week.

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    1. I'm with you on garlic...I go through many many heads of garlic! And I feel your love of a little parm on your pasta...talk about umami. Thanks for the good wishes!

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  17. Of all the pasta shapes, spaghetti is my favourite! Especially when prepared simply like this :D

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  18. Perfect pasta for busy schedules! Thank you for reminding me just how flavoursome and straightforward a dish like this can be. Hope the start of term started well for your son! Back to the list writing ;-)

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    1. I am always making lists, Jo! haha. It makes me feel productive. : ) We're all so busy and I love trying new things but it's the tried and true (and easy) that you go back to when you need something quick and satisfying.

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  19. This looks and sounds fantastic -- and right up my alley! I've made this kind of simple pasta dish often, it's so easy yet so satisfying!

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    1. It feels so good to be able to make something so tasty on the double.

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  20. What a delicious looking bowl of pasta!

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  21. HI Monica, love this classic dish, simple is better here.

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    1. That's pretty much my mantra, too, Cheri. Thank you!

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  22. Simple and flavorful pasta dishes like this beauty make dinner suchhhhh an enjoyable experience!!!!! I'm loving this pasta recipe!! I'd have to leave out anchovies though since we don't get them here! :(

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    1. Still good with plenty of garlic and oil...but I have to say the anchovies make it extra flavorful when there's no other protein involved. Pastas are always great!

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  23. This is one of my quick go-to meal (for my lunch)! SO good - simple food can be very delicious when you cook it right. I like the idea of adding meatballs to make it into a full meal (and add salad!). Going to try this meal very soon! Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

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    1. Thanks, Nami. The simple meals you can whip up are so good with the right ingredients. Have a great weekend!

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  24. Monica, I love this recipe -- simple but delicious! I'll have to give it a try with anchovies! (:

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    1. Hi Monica - hope all is well! Yes, this is easy, quick, inexpensive and tasty! Hope you have it soon. : )

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