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Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

Course Meal
Keyword Cayenne Pepper
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 643kcal


  • 4 fresh red cayenne peppers medium-sized. The ones I used were about 3 inches long. I sliced them on the diagonal into strips about an inch long and ¼ inch wide — seeds and all. Prepping them like this means they’ll really shine out in the finished dish.
  • 8 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced. Aim to keep the peeled garlic as intact as possible, so that the thin slices keep a nice oval-ish shape.
  • ½ cup olive oil For its wonderfully rich flavor, I used an extra virgin oil from a reputable maker. In this dish, high quality olive oil is definitely worth the premium price it sells for.
  • 16 ounces durum wheat spaghetti
  • 8 pints water for cooking the spaghetti
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground sea salt for the spaghetti’s water


  • You want to handle this so that you cook the garlic and chilies while the spaghetti is boiling. Once you’ve got the spaghetti underway, you can turn your attention to the business of melting the flavors out of the garlic and chilies in that fine olive oil.
  • So, for the spaghetti, add the water and salt to a big saucepan. The one I used was about ¾ filled with that amount of water — just right. Set the pan over a high heat and let it come to a bubbling boil.
  • Now add the spaghetti and let the water come back to a boil on that high heat. As soon as that happens, drop the heat to medium-high, so the spaghetti is cooking at that bubbling boil — for 2 minutes less than it says on the pack. So, if the pack says cook for 9 minutes (which it probably will), let it cook for 7 minutes.
  • For the garlic and chilies, you’ll want to use a heavy-bottomed pan that will give you an even spread of heat across its base. Also, the pan should be easily big enough to hold all the spaghetti once it’s cooked.
  • Set your big pan over a low-medium heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat for 30 seconds and then stir in the garlic and chilies, so they get a thorough coating in the oil. Use a spatula / fish slice to quickly spread the garlic and chilies into an evenly spaced single layer, and then drop the heat to low.
  • You’re aiming here to soften the garlic slowly — and I mean slowly — so that it turns slightly translucent but doesn’t pick up any color. On that low heat — and with a few gentle stirs so as not to break the garlic apart — this will take about 5 watchful minutes. Good.
  • Now, keeping the heat on low, add 6 tablespoons of the spaghetti’s boiling water to the pan. Give the whole lot a combining but gentle stir, and turn off the heat.
  • As soon as the spaghetti finishes its 2-minutes-deducted cooking, pour it into a big colander to drain. Don’t worry about it draining completely — a little remaining moisture on the spaghetti is just dandy.
  • Quick as you can, set the pan with the mix of garlic, chili, oil, and water onto a medium-high heat and stir in all the spaghetti. Almost done.
  • Let the pan sit on that medium-high heat for two, frequently-stirred minutes. You want the spaghetti to get thoroughly coated with the flavorful oil, and to get the whole nicely hot and ready for immediate serving. Take some care with your stirring so that nothing gets a chance to start sticking to the bottom of the pan. Done.


Serving you aglio, olio e peperoncino
Serve in good size, warmed bowls.
I like to have some of that fine olive oil at the table, so people can drizzle whatever suits them over their pasta. I also like a few good grindings of black pepper on mine.
And grated, fresh Parmesan. Now, a handsome sprinkle of that is just the ticket for me. It might not be very traditional, but there’s nothing wrong with letting grown-up folks decide for themselves.


Calories: 643kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Sodium: 1173mg | Potassium: 272mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 4mg