Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Recipe of the week # 8 - Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Pepperoncino con cipolla

Spaghetti with garlic, oil, chilli and onions

We arrived back late on Sunday night hungry and tired after visiting my parents in Leicester. The coach was delayed so by the time we got back it was too late to cook anything elaborate so this was the obvious choice; spaghetti, chili and olive oil is something we always have in the house. It's the quickest pasta dish to make, rarely found on a restaurant menu for its simplicity and one of my favourites as pasta is the main ingredient. It's great comfort food, great after a night out, wel,l great anytime really.
The sauce is delicate and complements the spaghetti - I hate it when pasta is served drowned in a sauce. I think this is something that people often don't understand.

Although it's not part of the traditional recipe, I use an onion which works really well and gives extra flavour. The use of Parmesan cheese has sometimes been a bone of contention in our family as I like it, whereas my Italian family say it doesn't go. I can't see why it doesn't, it's not fish is it?

Despite this dishes simplicity, it can be quite easy to get wrong. The pasta should be good quality, preferably De Cecco or Barilla which is my personal favourite as it's the pasta my Nonna always used. It should be served al dente and the garlic shouldn't be burnt or it will give it a bitter taste. The final result is pasta heaven; every spaghetti strand will be coated with delicious flavoured oil. Here's my version:

What you need:

1 x finely sliced onion
Olive oil
1 x finely chopped fresh red chilli (you can also use dried)
2 x finely sliced cloves garlic

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water. Meanwhile fry the onion and garlic until slightly browned along with the chili in about half a cup of olive oil (I don't know the exact measurement but the oil should be enough to generously coat the spaghetti). Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce. The more you cook this, you'll probably come up with your own modifications depending on your taste.


Red said...

Love this dish! I usually add a handful of cherry tomatoes (cooked with the oil, garlic and dried chilli - I find that fresh chilli is not as spicy...), just for a little extra flavour.

So simple and yet so delicious! Mmm... might have that for lunch today!

Travel Italy said...

ACT - no cheese, no tomato, no anything else. It is garlic, chili peppers and olive oil. Simplicity expressed.

If you look back into the origins you will find that the ingredients were combined based on the poverty of the working people, no cheese because cheese was expensive, no tomato or anything else because they did not necessarily have access to anything else.

a.c.t said...

Red, amazing isn't it how an idea can set you off. I saw someone eating an ice-cream today and had to have one! Hope you enjoyed it. Was it nice? Did you put cheese on?

Travel, I know what the recipe should be, and I know that Parmesan or onions don't conform to the original recipe, but I believe that cooking is all about adding your own touches and tinkering with ingredients according to what you like. I haven't quite reached the stage of poverty yet so I can indulge in a bit of Parmesan. Aren't you going to tell Red off for using cherry tomatoes?

Red said...

We ended up having falafel and humus instead, which was very nice. And those lovely fresh slices of cucumber are just what I crave in this weather!

a.c.t said...

No way, I had that too! They were left over ones from last night that Mike made. I had them with pitta, salad and tzatziki.

Spangly Princess said...

see, it maight be very nice with onion and grana but it wouldn't be aglio olio peperoncino then. it would be some different though still yummy thing. ditto the cherry tomatoes. which sounds very nice, as a different thing. not that I'm a purist... just if you invent something, invent a name too!

anyway, aglio olio as it is always abbreviated chez nous is the best ever stagger-in-pissed-and-hungry food.

Spangly Princess said...

otoh, if you want to modify... the addition of fresh chopped parsley at the end is good

even better is to chuck in some king prawns and maybe some fresh scallops (parsley still works here too but no parmesan then) to make a more subtantial dinner. if I add seafood then I use linguine.

a.c.t said...

There you go, I've changed the title, so now it's my own ;-)
I sometimes do it with king prawns with the addition of parsley, white wine and sun dried tomato paste.

Red said...

If I add prawns, then I also use linguine. And then I call it "chilli prawn linguine", rather than "linguine aglio olio e peperoncino with prawns"! I still use cherry toms, though (I love the stuff, I think I should be given honorary citizenship of Pachino).

But I would never choose to use parsley. I find that basil really complements the spiciness of the chilli...

the cappuccino kid said...

i think i have ruined my keyboard by drooling too much!
carry on folks, this is better than porn!

a.c.t said...

I always use parsley when I make spaghetti, tomato, tuna and olives, it goes really well. This time of year is great for cherry tomatoes, but you have to pay a bit more for the good quality ones.
Should I call this dish 'onion chili spaghetti' then?
Cappuccino, glad you're enjoying yourself, perhaps you should get yourself a bib to catch the dribble ;-)

Susan in Italy said...

Wow! Algio olio pepperoncino with king prawns! I'd never thought of that. In my house, we (all except me) were afraid of chili so it was aglio, olio, origano or aglio, olio, basilico or something and always with the pre-grated parmesan from the can ;)

Camie Vog said...

Please to say that my hubby got a large George Forman grill for his birthday yesterday (hey, thanks mom!). Steaks are in order for tonight, but that burger recipe you posted will be next!

* (asterisk) said...

I hate parsley. So much so that "senza prezzemolo" is one of my most used restaurant phrases when in Italy!

Spangly Princess said...

really, asterisk? that's such an odd thing to hate, I have only ever mate one other person who hates parsley & that's my flatmate. *stern glare* are you secretly my flatmate and not telling me?

another thing you can do (sounds a bit off but does work) is add some breadcrumbs, lightly fry them being v. careful not to burn them since burnt breadcrumbs are grim. They soak up a bit of the oil and add an interesting textural, um, texture.

Spangly Princess said...

met. not mate. oops. hehe.

a.c.t said...

Susan, parmesan out of a can tastes revolting, but I bet you don't use it now judging by your lovely recipes. My Italian family are a bit scared of chili, they can only eat it in small doses, it effects their constitution you know!
Camie, that's great! You'll get so much use out of it.
Asterisk, change that phrase to 'con tanto prezzemolo'.
S.P, I love fried breadcrumbs, I did them with squid and chili last week.

Spangly Princess said...

too much chilli is a bit calabrese, innit... your family are milanese like mine, iirc, so chilli has inherently Dodgy Southern attributes.

a.c.t said...

It certainly has. Pecorino is a swear word in the North.