After watching Jon Favreau whip up some Spaghetti Aglio E Olio (that’s Italian for spaghetti with garlic and olive oil) for Scarlett Johansson in the movie Chef, I knew I needed to make some for Will (and me, too, of course).

So last Sunday, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Apparently, after working a long, long shift on the line, this is the go-to meal for restaurant chefs. Since they typically get home around midnight, it’s a quick and satisfying meal without much effort.

One of things I’ve always loved about Italian food is how so many of the recipes feature the simplest of ingredients and with a little finesse, you elevate them to pure deliciousness. Case in point, this pasta. For extra flavor, I subbed in fresh basil for the parsley, increased the amount of red pepper flakes and grilled shrimp to scatter around the plate’s perimeter for my carnivore hubby.

This is the recipe that Ina Garten (a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa) loves, so that’s the one I chose for my midnight spaghetti debut.

Note: Since there are just two of us, we had plenty of leftovers, so this pasta became Will’s breakfast, too. I added a fried egg to the top to make it feel more like breakfast, and he declared it delicious.


1 pound dried spaghetti

1/3 cup good olive oil (it flavors the sauce, so make sure it’s extra virgin)

8 large garlic cloves cut into thin slivers

1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving because, you know, you can never have too much cheese)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, 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—don’t overcook it! Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Carefully add the reserved pasta-cooking water to the garlic and oil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by about a third.

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. Taste for seasoning and serve warm with extra Parmesan on the side.