Pasta Aglio e Olio From Chef
In this post we’re reviewing Pasta Aglio e Olio from Chef (recreated by Binging With Babish). Spoilers: it's pretty damn tasty. 👌
If you ever find yourself in a scenario where you need to seduce Scarlett Johansson at midnight, may we suggest making Pasta Aglio e Olio from Jon Favreau’s Chef? If your date isn’t Scarlett Johansson, don’t sweat it. This recipe is perfect to make whenever you need to impress someone — a date, your mom, your father-in-law (who is hard to impress and the first time you met him he definitely had a shotgun on his lap), whoever! The garlic breath is worth it.
This recipe is cheap and delicious — the name literally translates to “garlic and oil”. You’re going to need 6 ingredients: pasta noodles, garlic, olive oil, lemon, red chili flakes, and parsley (plus salt and pepper to taste).
Because this recipe cooks fairly quickly, we knew that it would be a good idea to have everything prepared and ready to go (this is also known as mise en place which is a concept we'll touch on in a future post). First off, we sliced our garlic as thinly we could. We also tried to get the slices to be as similarly sized as possible — the garlic cooks quickly so any pieces that are smaller will likely be on the verge of burning by the time the larger chunks are perfectly cooked. Next up we chopped the parsley, cut the lemon in half, and had the salt, pepper, and red chili flakes ready to go.
Once we had the prep work done, we began our quest for the perfectly seductive pasta! We heated our oil in a pan over medium-high heat — we recommend using a stainless steel pan that has a thick bottom to hold the heat. Once the oil was warm, we added the garlic and sautéed it. How long you'll sauté it for will depend on how thin your garlic was sliced and how hot the oil is. You’re looking for the garlic to be just on the verge of starting to turn brown and crispy, as it will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. It can take a few attempts before you get it, so don’t fret if you burn your garlic the first time. When the garlic finished cooking we put the heat on low and tossed in some red chili flakes.
Simultaneously, we brought a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. We’re talking like 2-3 tablespoons worth of salt — enough to raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels. We let our pasta cook for about 8 minutes. The best way to tell when the pasta is done is to try one. Take a noodle out and eat it. Is it crunchy? Yes? Then you need some more time. How long you should cook your pasta is up to you. Just remember that this dish is being finished with a pan sauce, so you want to slightly under-cook the pasta in the water — it will finishing cooking in the hot oil.
When the noodles reached the desired tenderness we transferred them to the pan. We recommend using metal tongs for this because they make you look like you know what you’re doing. Or you can strain your pasta and add it to the oil like a normal human being. (But you may want to reserve some of the pasta water — see below!)
We tossed the pasta to incorporate all the ingredients and added the parsley and lemon juice. Keep tossing this bad boy until all the ingredients are more or less uniformly incorporated!
Mediocre Tip: Add a bit of the water you cooked the pasta in if you feel like the garlic-oil sauce isn’t “thick” enough. The starch in the pasta water will help it stick. (You want it to be thick, but not thicc.)
The last step: plating. Grab a bowl and use tongs (or a carving fork if you have one) to place a small amount into the bowl. Go for a slightly smaller portion because carbs make you bloat, and if this pasta works the way it’s supposed to, then you’re going to be hooking up with Scarlett Johansson in a minute and you’ll want to look as good as possible. Also, second helpings are a thing.
Bonus: Shred some parmesan reggiano (not that Kraft crap you buy in a bottle) on top of each serving, because mmmmmm, cheese. 🧀
Extra Bonus: Pair this dish with a nice wine — we went with a Pinot Grigio wine from the Okanagan. Any wine will do, but we recommend avoiding wine that’s too sweet.
Extra Extra Bonus: Try making the pasta by hand. Especially if ScarJo shows up.
Our Mediocre Thoughts
👨🍳 Trevor: To be honest, I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about this pasta. I didn’t think there was a way that something with so few ingredients could taste so good. It wasn’t heavy like a spaghetti bolognese or fettuccine alfredo, it was light — refreshing almost. The lemon and parsley complement the garlic well. It’s just good, okay?
From a Mediocre Chef perspective, this is a fantastic recipe to learn how to cook by feel and guesstimation. Following a recipe is good, but sometimes you just have to cook by feel. How finely you slice the garlic, how long said garlic is going to cook for, how fine the parsley is chopped is all up to you to figure out — everything is being done to taste and by feel. And honestly, what better way to seduce someone than by cooking something for them without having to look at a recipe? It makes them think you’re better than you really are, and that’s the whole point of Mediocre Chef.
I’d also like to reiterate one of the bonus tips from above: if you can, try making your own noodles once you’ve mastered this dish. It adds that much more and is sure to impress whoever it is you’re making this for.
👩🍳 Brittany: I first heard about this pasta when I watched Chef in theatre years back, but I never thought to make this pasta until I saw Binging With Babish’s video. The only thing I’d change about this recipe is to double the garlic, because I’m crazy in love with garlic. (Don’t judge me.)
I’m a huge fan of this recipe because I like pesto — this is like a deconstructed pesto (hah). You have your olive oil, parsley, garlic, lemon, and parmesan reggiano (which we added). There’s no pricey walnuts or pine nuts (take your pick) AND you don’t have to dirty a food processor to blend it all together. Less dishes to wash = a huge bonus.
This is an easy and budget-friendly recipe that anybody who is looking to up their cooking game should try. Once you have tried it, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. I try to work this recipe into my meal plan at least once or twice a month! It’s that good.
Our Final Review
Taste: 5 empty plates out of 5 🍽️🍽️🍽️🍽️🍽️
Presentation: 4 seductive ScarJos out of 5 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Affordability: 5 broke college kids out of 5 👩🎓👩🎓👩🎓👩🎓👩🎓
Sometimes, the most enjoyable dishes are made with simple ingredients — Pasta Aglio e Olio proves this. Such simple flavours come together in a pasta dish that is sophisticated and refined. We could eat Pasta Aglio e Olio for breakfast, lunch, and supper (or maybe just Brittany could).
This pasta is sexy. We’re giving it a four for presentation because we didn’t have a carving fork on hand to do the classic twirl — but if you can give your pasta a twirl and have it stand upright, this dish gets a 5 for presentation.
The best things in life are free, but not everything is free in life (groceries sure the hell aren’t). Despite not being free, this recipe is hella cheap to make:
- Linguine or Spaghetti: $1.99
- Italian Parsley: $0.69
- Lemon: $0.99
- Garlic: $0.90
- Spices: Free (Not exactly free, but you should have these basic spices in your kitchen. If you don’t, go out and buy them immediately!)
What are you waiting for? Treat yo self to some simple yet delicious pasta, and splurge on a bottle of wine if you can. 🍷You deserve it!
Not convinced that we know what we’re talking about? Follow along with Binging With Babish’s recipe, or watch him make the dish below: