This is a seminal pasta dish, in many ways the simplest of all. Master this one and you are well on the way to becoming an accomplished pasta cook.
Put 5 litres water on to boil. Put a colander in the sink. Warn your guests that food is imminent. This dish depends on speed of service for its quality. Salt the water. When boiling vigorously, add the pasta.
Immediately put a medium frying pan over a flame. Add the oil, chilli and garlic. The garlic may colour slightly, but must not burn – turn the heat down very low.
When the pasta is al dente, after about 8 minutes, drain through the colander, having reserved a small jug of the cooking water. Return the pasta quickly to the cooking pan, and place over a high flame. Immediately add the flavoured oil, toss and serve.
© 1996 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.