Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil and Chilli Pepper

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

This dish, of spaghetti with garlic-and chilli-flavoured olive oil, is one of the simplest and most delicious ways of preparing pasta. You must use good-quality olive oil, preferably one that has a strong flavour. The amount of chilli and garlic you use depends on your personal taste.

This dish is a very good cure for a hangover, especially if you eat it just before you retire for the night. In Rome, it is sometimes served at the end of the meal, after the dessert, to help you digest and ward off the effects of alcohol. I can remember creeping home after late-night disco sessions, giggling furiously, and making great bowlfuls of it with seventeen people helping! My parents must have been woken up by the smell, if nothing else!

A plea from the heart: please wash your hands very carefully after rubbing the chilli, just in case you accidentally rub your eyes.


  • salt and pepper
  • 14 oz (400 g) spaghetti or spaghettini
  • 4 fl oz (120 ml) good-quality, strong olive oil
  • 2–5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • ½–3 dried red chilli peppers, rubbed between your hands to release maximum flavour


Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, toss in the pasta and stir. Cook until al dente - firm to the bite. (Check the instructions on the packet for timing, as brands vary.) While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil without burning it in a separate pan with the garlic and chillies. Drain the spaghetti and transfer to a warm bowl. Remove the garlic and chillies from the oil and discard them, then pour the oil over the spaghetti and toss together. Add pepper to taste and serve, without cheese.