Aglio e Olio (pasta with olive oil and garlic), is a classic and simple Italian pasta recipe which everyone should have in their back pocket for a quick, pantry meal. I like to brighten up the flavor with some lemon juice and zest while also giving it some base notes of umami with a few anchovy fillets, to make it an anchovy, garlic and lemon pasta with olive oil. Yum!
Garlic lemon pasta (with olive oil of course!) is a perennial favorite here when I’m trying to get dinner on the table. I mean, what’s not to love?
Quick? YES! 15 minutes and you’ll have dinner on the table. Slice up the garlic and do the chopping while the pasta water comes to a boil, then a titch of sauteing…then toss, toss, toss with plenty of pasta water for the sauce. Done!
Pasta? Always a hit, especially with the younger crowd. Add a salad and you’re good to go.
Pantry meal? Yep! It’s a sad state of affairs if I don’t have all the ingredients in house on a daily basis.
Since this is such a simple meal, you’ll want to use the best ingredients you can and pay attention to the details.
That means good, fresh garlic which hasn’t been sitting a jar and also hasn’t been sitting in your pantry until it got all old and wrinkly. I don’t think you’re allowed to make Aglio e Olio with nasty garlic! 🙂 They come and take away your license to cook. Or something…
Same with the olive oil. A good, extra virgin oil with plenty of flavor is going to a long way to making this recipe into a satisfying dinner.
Other than that, the lemon zest is huge – it doesn’t taste nearly as good just with lemon juice; I prefer anchovy fillets to anchovy paste here – once again the flavors are simple so everything counts; and certainly salt the water – if the pasta has no flavor, the dish has no flavor.
That’s it! A simple, kid-pleasing 15 minute meal!
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Simple and Quick Anchovy, Garlic, and Lemon Pasta
- 12 oz spaghettini, can substitute spaghetti or vermicelli
- kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3-4 anchovy fillets
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to package directions. Then drain and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil/pasta to cook, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the anchovies, garlic, and a sprinkle of kosher salt and cook, stirring frequently until the garlic is soft and the anchovies have melted into the oil, about 3-4 minutes.
- Once the pasta is done, add it to the skillet with the pasta water, parsley, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss everything together over low heat until the sauce has become thick and clings to the pasta, about 2-3 minutes. Serve.
- Timing: I generally pull out all the ingredients, then get the pasta water going, and while I'm waiting for it to boil and I do any chopping and zesting needed. Then, while the pasta cooks I make the sauce and leave it on very low heat until the pasta is done.
- Pasta: I've made the recipe with various pastas over the years and I like spaghettini the best. It's not too thick and not too thin. But, as this is a pantry meal, feel free to use whatever shape you have on hand.
- Vegetarians: If you want to serve this to vegetarians you will need to skip the anchovies! Don't forget.