If you’re looking for a quick, affordable and delicious meal to serve your family on busy weeknights, this spaghetti aglio e olio with fresh tomatoes & basil is just the thing. Most of the ingredients needed to make this delicious meal are probably in your pantry already. Grab some fresh tomatoes and some basil at the market and you’re on your way to dinner. Enjoy!
16 oz. package Spaghetti, or favorite pasta, cooked to package directions
Salt, for the pasta water and a pinch or two for the garlic oil
5-6 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ tsp. Crushed Red Pepper, or to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
8-10 oz. Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
4-6 Basil Leaves, chiffonade
Parmesan Cheese, grated for serving
To chiffonade the basil, stack the leaves, one on top of the other. Roll the leaves, lengthwise and make thin slices widthwise. You’ll end up with thin ribbons. Cut the basil right before using or the cut edges will brown.
Start a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil, drop the spaghetti in the boiling water and cook to package directions for al-dente. Remember to add a generous amount of salt to the water after it comes to a boil; 1-2 tbsp. should do it.
When the spaghetti is almost done
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When the olive oil is hot, but not smoking, add the garlic to the skillet. Cook the garlic gently for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. You’ll know it’s done because the garlic will become very fragrant. Add in the crushed red pepper, a pinch of salt and pepper, stir. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the tomatoes, give the pan a quick swirl to coat the tomatoes with the garlic oil and set aside until the pasta is ready.
When the pasta is al dente, reserve at least one cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta well. Add the pasta back to the pot and set aside.
Add the garlic oil to the pasta. Add in a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water, until the noodles are slippery and really easy to toss. Taste the pasta, add salt and pepper to taste if needed, and toss well.
Right before serving the pasta, chiffonade the basil and top each individual dish. Serve the spaghetti aglio e olio with fresh tomatoes & basil with Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper, if desired.
Always cook garlic gently over moderate heat, and stirring frequently. Don’t leave the garlic unattended. Garlic burns very easily and if it does burn, it becomes bitter and pretty much inedible. If your garlic burns – it happens – toss it and start over.