Pasta Aglio Olio e Peperoncino and Garlic Bread Crumbs

The other day I was contemplating what we would have for dinner when I found a nearly full box of angel hair pasta in the cupboard. I decided to wing a simple pasta sauce, and it turned out better than expected.

This isn’t strictly traditional, but when you taste it, you won’t care. I decided to make a version of “Aglio Olio e Peperoncino,” or garlic, oil and peppers. I also ripped off the idea of adding some toasted garlic bread crumbs from Bon Appétit for a little added texture.

If you don’t like garlic or spice, this isn’t the dish for you. Since I was winging it initially, I made it a little too spicy. You can add more red pepper flakes than I suggest, but be forewarned, this could be in your future:

This is perfect for a quick weeknight meal or weekend gathering with friends. Try pairing it with a Valpolicella Ripasso from Italy or a Beaujolais from France.

Recipe:

For pasta:

  • ¾ box angel hair pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter (you can used unsalted, but what is this? The Great Depression?)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan or pecorino cheese to taste

For the bread crumbs:

  • About 2 cups of stale bread, without crusts
  • 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Directions:

For bread crumbs:

  1. Tear bread into small pieces and let sit out or toast in oven slightly (350 for about 10 minutes), so they’re nice and crusty.
  2. Roughly chop garlic.
  3. Put bread and garlic into food processor and pulse until you get fine bread crumbs.
  4. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pan, add breadcrumbs and garlic and cook until golden brown. It should take about five minutes. 
  5. Reserve and add to pasta later.

For pasta:

  1. Bring pot of heavily salted water (should taste like sea water) to a boil and add pasta.
  2. Cook until pasta is al dente and drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Don’t turn up the heat any higher or you risk burning the garlic, which means you have to start over…
  4. Add garlic to the olive oil and cook for about a minute. The garlic should brown a little but, again, don’t burn it.
  5. Add pepper flakes to oil and cook for another minute to infuse the oil.
  6. Add pasta water, lemon juice, white wine, butter and pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid reduces by about half. It will take a few minutes. You can turn the heat to medium-high if you're impatient.
  7. Add drained pasta to the pan and toss to coat noodles.
  8. Add bread crumbs, parsley and cheese (a handful or two will do) to pan and toss again.