Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncini

Rate this recipe

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

This is one of the simplest and purest pasta dishes. It was originally a poor man’s meal, for the ingredients are literally spaghetti, olive oil, garlic and chilli. Like all brilliant flavour and texture combinations, however, it is now enjoying popularity in a market where cost is not the most significant factor. How spicy-hot you make it is entirely up to you and the chillies you use.


  • 4 small dried red chillies
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 400 g/14 oz spaghetti
  • salt and pepper



About half an hour ahead, put the chillies to soak in warm water.

When ready to start cooking, put a large pan of salted water to heat.

Slice open the chillies, scrape out the seeds and cut the flesh across into thin strips. Peel, smash and chop the garlic.


Put the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the garlic and chilli strips. You want to infuse the flavours in the oil, but not brown the garlic too much or you will get a bitter result.

When the water in the pan reaches a fast boil, cook the pasta for 8β€”10 minutes until just al dente (that is, tender but still retaining residual bite).

Drain in a colander, reserving some of the cooking liquor, and return immediately to the hot pan. (In any case, never drain pasta until all the water has evaporated - it should go back into the pan still with a coating of water as this contributes to the sauce.)

Immediately pour over the hot oil, with the garlic and chillies. Toss to mix and coat the spaghetti. If too dry, add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.


Serve heaped in hot bowls. This dish is so good it is addictive.

Part of