22 July 2018

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino e Noci

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino e Noci - Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, chili and walnuts. This was my favourite meal in Italy, eaten on the island of Capri on my birthday a few weeks back. It's almost like garlic bread in pasta form, with mild hits of chili flakes and black pepper, perfectly al dente spaghetti and added texture from the walnut nibs. 

Before I visited Italy this time around I thought I didn't like spaghetti...I love pappardelle, linguini, fusilli and just about every other pasta, yet I never enjoyed spaghetti quite as much. Every pasta shape suits a different sauce perfectly and it turns out that spaghetti is the perfect vehicle for this glorious garlic and olive oil based sauce...the mellow, almost buttery garlic flavours coating each strand evenly, so each bite is just as garlicky and delicious as the last.

When it comes to such a simple recipe, having great quality ingredients and cooking them well is imperative. Use your best olive oil and don't rush the garlic, you want to cook it slowly, so it gets melty and the flavour perfectly infuses into the oil, leaving no traces of harsh, raw garlic at the end. Cook the pasta to al dente, around 7-8 minutes with a good quality spaghetti and very well seasoned water - this is your only source of salt in the dish. Also, make sure that the chili flakes are mild - this isn't a spicy pasta!

The whole dish comes together in the time that the pasta cooks, so serve up immediately with a good glass of red wine and your favourite sides. A little bread to mop up the olive oil, zucchini alla scapece, aubergine in a tomato and basil sauce, a fresh tomato salad or even just the perfect spaghetti as is. However you choose to enjoy this dish, you won't be disappointed!

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Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino e Noci | Serves: 2-3 | Time: 10 minutes

You'll need

  • Large saucepan
  • Metal sauté pan / large saucepan
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Ladle
  • Tongs 


  • 200g good quality spaghetti
  • 4 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp mild chili flakes
  • Handful walnuts
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped


  1. Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil (be generous on the salt, this is where the seasoning in the dish comes from). 
  2. Peel and slice the garlic cloves as thin as you can. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook for 7-8 minutes, until just al dente.
  3. Add 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the sauté pan or saucepan on the lowest heat and add in the sliced garlic. Allow the garlic to cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan every so often to move the garlic around, ensuring that it stays light in colour.
  4. Chop the walnuts into small nibs. After 3-4 minutes, when the garlic starts to go translucent, add a ladleful of water to the pan, along with the walnuts and chili flakes and allow the water to reduce, but make sure the pan doesn't boil dry. 
  5. When the pasta has cooked for 7-8 minutes and is just al dente, use tongs to transfer it into the garlic pan. Toss the spaghetti to evenly coat and add a splash more pasta water and a drizzle of olive oil to loosen.
  6. Serve up the spaghetti immediately with a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley and a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper and enjoy! 
Cassidy xx