How to make a delicious Olive Oil and Garlic Pasta Dish

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Long pasta works best for olive oil-based sauces.
Image Credit: francesco perre/iStock/Getty Images

Start to Finish: 20 minutes Servings: 4 to 6 Difficulty Level: Beginner


Serve it as a side dish, main course or to satisfying a late-night craving. Pasta with olive oil and garlic is easy and affordable to make. This recipe, adapted from one created by Lidia Bastianich, tastes like it came directly from an Italian grandmother's kitchen.

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  • 2 tablespoons table salt
  • 1 pound long pasta (such as spaghetti, linguine or angel hair)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Cooking the Pasta

Fill a large pot with about 4 quarts, or 16 cups, of water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and add the salt.

Lower the pasta into the water. Let the pasta start to soften for 10 seconds, then use a wooden spoon to gently push down on the pasta until it's completely submerged in the water. Stir the pasta after one minute of cooking.


Cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package instructions. Typically spaghetti takes about 10 minutes, but the thinner the pasta, the faster it will cook.

Test the pasta for doneness before removing it from the water. Use a slotted spoon to pull out a few strands. Let them cool for a few seconds, then taste.


Assembling the Dish

While the pasta cooks, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Peel and mince the garlic. If you're using rosemary, hold the top of the sprigs with one hand. Pinch the fingers of your other hand around the stems and run them downward to remove the needles. Finely chop the needles.


Add the garlic and rosemary to the oil. Let them fry for 60 seconds, or until they're fragrant but the garlic is still pale in color. If the pasta isn't yet ready, remove the pan from the heat.

Use tongs to scoop the pasta out of the pot and into the skillet. The pasta will be slightly wet, which will help form a sauce.



Stir the pasta into the olive oil. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, then season the dish with a pinch each of salt and pepper over the dish. Take a taste: you may need to add more of one or both.

Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Sprinkle the cheese on top and serve hot.


Tips and Suggestions

Because this is a simple dish, it lends itself to tweaks and twists. Use a bowlful as the bed for grilled chicken or shrimp or toss it with roasted vegetables. Stir cherry tomatoes or ricotta cheese into the pasta. Brighten the flavors of the dish by adding crushed red pepper to the hot oil, or finish the pasta with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a handful of chopped basil or parsley.


This pasta dish can be refrigerated for up to three days. It reheats well, but can become rather dry. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pasta before heating it in the microwave or on the stove. Drizzle a little oil over the hot dish.



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