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“What’s Cooking?”

You know those nights when you peer into your refrigerator and find…nothing.  It’s too late to go to the store, or you just returned home from work and going to back out to the store seems unbearable.  But you are HUNGRY.  It’s cold outside and you’ve already changed into your comfy clothing, slipped into your slippers and all you want to do is eat a comforting meal!

What to do?

My bet is that you most likely have some pasta in the pantry, a few garlic cloves laying around and, of course, extra virgin olive oil.  These are staples and even when I was a single girl, I had these available.

Roll up your sleeves and get ready for the quickest, easiest, most satisfying meal you can imagine created simply from these 3 ingredients!  Well, as long as you like love garlic and you are not a vampire.

Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

Spaghetti Aglio E Olio.

I’d love to say that I invented this effortless “Garlic & Oil” dish, but it’s origins are traced from the Italian region of Abruzzo, about 50 miles east of Rome.

You can find many renditions of this recipe, but this is how I like making my Aglio E Olio.

First, cut your garlic in fine slices.  Your choice as to how many you’d like to use.  For me, the more the better, so I used around 1/2 cup of sliced garlic.  Use more, use less, there is no correct amount.

Put some water to boil for the pasta of your choosing, don’t forget to salt your water.  For bf and I, I grab a nice palm full of dried spaghetti (probably around 3/4 lb).  When the water comes to a steady boil, add the pasta which usually takes around 6 minutes until it is al dente.

Simmering Garlic

While your water is coming to a boil, heat up your pan (one large enough to finish the pasta in, I use my wok!) with a good amount of quality extra virgin olive oil.  Hm, around 1/2 cup?  Don’t be shy with it, olive oil is good for you!  Heh.  Heat to low-medium heat and add the garlic.  Add a good amount of salt to your taste and a dash of black pepper (sometimes I omit the pepper altogether).  If you care to spice up this pasta, throw in some red pepper flakes.  You know me, the answer is always, YES PLEASE!  So, I add a lot.  Cook the garlic slowly on this low-to-medium heat until it is tender and be sure not to burn it, don’t let it get brown!  It should take as long as it takes the pasta to cook.

Next, I add the al dente pasta straight from the pasta pot to my pan of cooking garlic with a pasta fork.

Pasta Fork

Honestly, I never knew that what these were called though I must have around a dozen of them in my drawers!  The residual cooking water that comes along is the perfect added liquid.  Don’t drain the pasta water yet, keep it handy if you need to add a little more.

Toss everything well to combine!  Does it look a little dry?  Add more olive oil!  Add a little more pasta water!  It’s all up to you.  Lucky me, I had a bit of left-over parsley, so I chopped that up and tossed it in as well.

Pasta Aglio E Olio

To finish, I grated some pecorino-romano cheese that I found hiding behind the jam.  You can run, but you can’t hide!  Ok, now it is more than 3 ingredients, but I’ve had it with just the 3 before and it is still wonderful.

This is so, so simple and delicious and it also makes a great side dish.  We had ours in front of the fireplace and watched the end of Season 3 of “Downton Abbey” (anyone else enthralled?).

I don’t know about you, but going from “There’s nothing to eat!!!” to a beautiful bowl of pasta, a cozy fire and “Downton Abbey” with my dear bf is a pretty darn good evening in my book.