This traditional Italian pasta dish harkens back to my childhood memories and the familiar tastes my ancestors brought to America from Molfetta, Italy.
Aglio e olio is a traditional peasant dish that is said to have originated in the Abruzzo region of Italy and is usually made by sauteing minced or pressed garlic in olive oil and tossing it with spaghetti. Often, a few crushed red pepper flakes and fresh parsley are added for an additional burst of flavor.
There are also versions which utilize pignoli (pine) nuts and raisins, but this version employs the small salted fish known to we traditionalists as Alici or Acciughe, and better known to Americans as "Anchovies".
Now before you wrinkle your nose and say "yuck", in much the same manner as it does in an authentic Caesar Dressing, the anchovy adds a salty edge to the dish, that when combined with the garlic and olive oil, takes the entire flavor composition to new heights.
Quick and easy to make, this is one of my favorite dishes when in need of a bit of the "Old Country".
1. Bring pot of water to rolling boil and begin to prepare pasta according to directions (begin the steps below as pasta is cooking because it only takes a few minutes).
2. Heat olive in heat skillet over medium heat.
3. Combine garlic and parsley and add to hot oil.
4. After two or three minutes (the garlic is just starting to change color) add anchovy fillets.
5. Lower heat just slightly and continually stir fillets with a wooden spoon. They should be breaking down with the oil.
6. As you are stirring, you will be noticing the garlic is toasting as well.
7. Before garlic burns, remove from heat.
8. Drain pasta well and add to hot skillet. Toss in a few red pepper flakes. Mix gently, but thoroughly, to ensure pasta is completely coated.
9. Top with grated Locatelli Romano cheese and serve while hot. Bon Apetit!