Added on by Steven Casale.

For some people, comfort food is a pile of mashed potatoes or a bowl of chicken soup (of course, I’m completely satisfied polishing either off). But for me comfort food is a plate full of garlicky pasta.

My mother made this simple and easy dish when I was a child, and even though there are barely five ingredients, I still can’t seem to make it as good as she did. She called it spaghetti with garlic and oil — even though she always used linguine. 

Below are the basics, but keep in mind that rustic dishes like this allow for a little give and take. So if you like things fiery, add more crushed chili. And if you’re a parsley addict (like me), feel free to go a bit overboard. 

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Serves 2

250g / ½ pound of spaghetti or linguine (bucatini is also fun)
4 roughly chopped garlic cloves
Handful of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried red chili flakes
Black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it so that it’s as salty as the sea (as my grandmother would say). Add pasta and cook al dente.

In the meantime, pour a generous glug of olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Add the chili, garlic and half of the chopped parsley. Cook until fragrant and then lower the heat, so the garlic won’t burn.

Reserving one cup of cooking water, drain the pasta and transfer to the pan. Coat with the sauce and add water as needed to help distribute the sauce. Add remaining parsley and some cracked black pepper.

Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve with Pecorino Romano cheese.

Wine pairing suggestion: The soft fruit and low tannin of this Piedmontese Barbera play well with the spiciness of this Neapolitan dish.

Photo: Flickr / davidblake