Spaghetti Aglio y Olio

About a week into COVID-19 mania, Sis and I are burning through the boxes of pasta she had stored in her cupboards. Seriously. There were a ton of boxes of pasta.

This latest recipe used up her last box of long noodles so we got more today when we stopped at the Fred Meyer in Tillamook, Ore. 

I’m going to stop just a moment to share a few things unrelated to food.

Last night the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, the Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, and the Multnomah County Commissioner, Deborah Kafoury, held a news conference (“breaking news” I should add) to bring a very confusing message to the people of the Portland Metro area. They said people should stay at home but explained this is not a “shelter in place” order, ripping on the State of California for using the term and confusing California residents in the process. They then explained that it’s still OK to go outside and go hiking and stuff.

Having been cooped up all week working from home, I suggested to Sis this morning that we drive to the coast like we would any other weekend of the year. I figured we could practice social distancing on the beach since a beach is so spread out. Plus, we had been given directions by local officials to still go outdoors and go hiking and stuff. Also, we had heard the coast was hurting due to lack of business because of COVID-19 and there’s a Fred Meyer in Tillamook. I reasoned that a grocery store out on the coast wouldn’t be as ravaged as ones in the city.

Everyone and their mother must have watched the local officials give this late-breaking news address last night as the rest of the city swarmed to the coast as well. We opted not to walk the beach in Cannon Beach or Manzanita because both locations were packed. As packed as a summer day, if not more packed. Our beloved Rockaway Beach, known to be nearly empty at most times of the year, was even busier than usual. Parking lots and roads were overflowing with cars as people stormed the beaches as directed by local officials. Because it was nearly impossible to socially distance on the beaches, we grabbed ourselves a coffee at a grocery store in Cannon Beach where only one person seemed to be taking the state of things seriously by wearing a mask, stretched our legs for a few minutes in Rockaway Beach and then headed down to to Tillamook to stock up on groceries thinking a stay-at-home order is coming up this week.

Things looked promising when we walked into Fred Meyer. We were greeted by stacks of bottled water so I grabbed two 32-bottle packages. Next we hit the pasta aisle so we could replenish Sis’s stock. I should have taken a picture of our options. There were a few packages of spaghetti and some expensive options and lasagna noodles on the top shelf. We grabbed three packages of spaghetti noodles, two packages of lasagna, two packages of manicotti and two packages of jumbo shells. As I was placing the pasta in our cart, I said to Sis, OMG we look like those crazy people buying out the store. We shopped without incident (except for the fact that the canned tomato aisle was ravaged as well) and walked out of the store $120 lighter with a ton of food should the government in Oregon get their act together and tell people to stay home instead of go for a hike.

Getting back to the recipe: 

We have been eating pasta because Sis had so many boxes, we love pasta, it’s easy to make and Sis is mostly vegetarian and we can easily make scores of vegetarian pasta. We make pasta and eat leftovers and then make more pasta and then eat more leftovers. Sis directed me to find a new recipe and I chose one of Ina Garten’s pasta recipes. Click the link to watch the video but be warned that the video makes the recipe look a little bit more simple than it really is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s relatively simple. It just requires a bit more steps than what you see in the video.

I had to adapt the recipe a smidge. My noodles were cold when I added them to the sauce so I had to keep the heat on. Then when I added the parmesan cheese, I decided I needed to add pasta water to try to make a creamy sauce as the cheese was not melting. This took some time but eventually I got a nice creamy sauce. At first I thought the pasta was OK. Good but nothing special. When I let the pasta sit a bit in the sauce (about 30 minutes or so), the noodles seemed to absorb the flavor, and I decided I liked the past a lot.


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb dried spaghetti
  • ⅓ c. good olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ c. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook until al dente (follow the directions on the package). Drain the pasta reserving as much pasta water as possible in case you need a large amount.
  2. While the pasta is cooking (or even beforehand because my pasta only took 6 minutes to make), heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the pasta, such as a 12-inch saute pan or a large, shallow pot. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it just begins to turn golden on the edges. Add red pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds more.
  3. Carefully add about 1 ½ cups reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Off the heat, add the parsley and Parmesan and toss well. Allow the pasta to rest off the heat for 5 minutes for the sauce to be absorbed. If necessary, use extra pasta water to get a creamy sauce consistency.
  5. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side.

Recipe rating: 

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