Forego the cruelty, skip the clams, and make this sensational Spaghetti Aglio e Olio recipe! Al dente capellini noodles, paired with the perfect mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms creates one enticing and luscious dish. Top with red peppers and a lemon wedge for a spicy, yet sexy presentation of flavor.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe
The magic of this pasta dish is all in that garlic and olive oil sauce. It should not be spaghetti drenched in olive oil, but a perfect emulsion of garlic infused olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lots of garlic, and starchy pasta water. As a matter of fact, this recipe uses about 1/3 less oil than most, but I guarantee it’s incredibly luscious and delicious without an oily feeling.
The goal is to reach that perfect balance of salt + fat + acid and this recipe absolutely nails it! If you want to try some other recipes that are absolute ringers, give this White Bean Stew and Mushroom Farro Risotto a go. In fact, you should try any of my other tempting and lustrous vegan dinners if you want a winner every time!
How to pronounce Aglio e Olio:
The easiest way to teach the pronunciation of this word is to use common English words. Aglio sounds like “all-ee-oh.” The “e” in this phrase sounds like a quick “eh.” Olio sounds like “Oh-lee-oh.” It’s actually a pretty easy phrase to pronounce, it just looks different that many people are used to in the US.
What is Spaghetti Aglio e Olio?
This is a very simple Italian dish that comes from Naples, Italy. This recipe, in its simplest form, is pressed garlic, sauteed in olive oil, and tossed with spaghetti. It’s common for it to be sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes or even tossed with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Of course, there are many renditions of this dish. For example, mine is very similar to a spaghetti and clams dish, but I use oyster mushrooms in place of the clams so it’s totally vegan of course.
How to Make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio e Peperoncino A.K.A. Garlic and Oil Pasta
- Make the noodles – Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook the noodles until al dente. Reserve two cups of the pasta water then drain. Transfer to cold water.
- Make the mushrooms – Heat a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the mushrooms and cook until wilted. Remove from the pan.
- Make the Aglio e Olio sauce – In the same skillet, add the garlic, chili flakes, and ⅓ cup of olive oil. Cook until fragrant and add half of the reserved pasta water. Whisk until combined. Whisk in the lemon juice.
- Combine – Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the oil mixture, along with the cooked mushrooms and parsley. Toss with tongs until coated. Add more pasta water if needed.
- Garnish and serve – Garnish with more parsley, red pepper flakes, and a lemon wedge if desired. Serve and enjoy!
Tips and Variations
- Storage – Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. I do not suggest freezing this vegan spaghetti and clams recipe.
- Reheating – Reheat using the microwave or over the stove.
- Which pasta should I use? – My go-to pasta for this dish is Capellini, but any thin spaghetti noodles will work. Stay away from thick noodles like linguine, bucatini or fettuccini; they don’t pair well with this style of dish.
- Add seafood flavor – Add seafood flavor with a pinch of dulse flakes or any dried seaweed flakes.
- Make it gluten-free – To make this gluten-free friendly, all you have to do is use gluten-free noodles. Everything else is naturally gluten-free!
- Lemon wedges versus lemon juice – Traditionally, lemon wedges are served on the side when ordering this pasta dish in a restaurant. However, I really beg to argue that adding the fresh lemon juice as a main component of the sauce is what makes it out-of-this-world, perfectly balanced.
- Add-in ideas – Some delicious add-in suggestions are steamed broccoli, green peas, oyster mushrooms, marinated artichokes, salty black olives, sun dried tomatoes, vegan parmesan, fresh basil (in place of parsley), kale, spinach, smoky tempeh bits, plant-based Italian sausage, steamed or grilled asparagus, toasted bread crumbs, etc.
- Is Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Healthy?
No, it’s pure comfort food. There are definitely some good health benefits in this recipe from all that garlic, lemon, and mushrooms, but the oil part makes it not so healthy. If you want to learn about what’s going on in our arteries when we consume oil, just hop on over to Nutrition Facts and read all about it!
- How to Cook the Spaghetti for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio?
Whether you’re going to use spaghetti, capellini, whole wheat, or durum wheat semolina, make sure to check the cooking times on the package. Angel hair cooks to al dente texture in less than 3 minutes, depending on the brand, and it’s mandatory you don’t overcook the pasta.
Set an alarm and prepare a bowl of ice water to place the noodles in after draining. I know, I know, you are not supposed to rinse Italian pasta, but in this case only, we are going to treat these noodles like glass noodles. It’s really important to do this so your gentle noodles don’t stick and you are able to toss them in that garlic lemon sauce without breaking them, and ending up with clumps of dry pasta. Trust me on this one. Do not fret, you will be adding some of that starchy pasta water to your sauce, which will help coat the noodles perfectly while they keep their shape and stay separated.
More Vegan Dinners:
- Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon
- Vegan Steak
- Kelp Noodle Salad
- Cherry Tomato Basil Pasta
- Vegan Zuppa Toscana.
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Garlic and Oil Pasta)
- 8 oz oyster mushrooms
- 3/4 lb capellini pasta (you can use whole wheat or basic semolina noodles)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for garnish
- 1/3 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 9 large cloves garlic (grated or thinly sliced)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
- zest from 1 lemon
- 1.25 cups reserved pasta water the water you cooked the pasta in
- 1/3 cup Italian parsley (roughly chopped + more to your liking)
- 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
- S & P to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and generously season with sea salt. The water should taste like the ocean.
- Add the pasta and set the timer according to package directions for an Al Dente texture. Do not cook one minute more.
- Reserve 2 cups of the starchy pasta water then drain the noodles.
- Transfer the drained pasta to the bowl with ice water to stop the cooking process. Ideally you’ll add some ice cubes to this water.
Make the Aglio e Olio Sauce / Garlic Oil Sauce
- Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a light drizzle of olive oil oil and the oyster mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Saute until wilted then transfer to a bowl.
- In the same skillet on medium low heat add 1/3 cup of olive oil, all the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Give it a stir for a few seconds just until it starts to sizzle and its fragrance perfumes your kitchen. Take good care not to burn it, this is important. (If you are sensitive to garlic please cut the amount in half as this is quite a lot, it's for those of us with garlic running through our veins ha).
- Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and whisk into the oil and garlic until combined. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest until emulsified and remove from heat.
- Drain the cool noodles and add them to the pan with the sauce together with the oyster mushrooms and parsley. Using a pair of kitchen tongs toss the noodles in the sauce to coat all over. Add a little more of the reserved pasta water if needed to stretch out the sauce.
- Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste with sea salt and pepper. If your pasta water was properly salted you might not need to add any salt at all.
- Serve promptly with fresh parsley on top, extra red pepper flakes, a lemon wedge and a light drizzle of olive oil.
- Storage - Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. I do not suggest freezing this vegan spaghetti and clams recipe.
- Reheating - Reheat using the microwave or over the stove.
- Which pasta should I use? - My go-to pasta for this dish is Capellini, but any thin spaghetti noodles will work. Stay away from thick noodles like linguine, bucatini or fettuccini; they don’t pair well with this style of dish.
- Add seafood flavor - Add seafood flavor with a pinch of dulse flakes or any dried seaweed flakes.
- Make it gluten-free - To make this gluten-free friendly, all you have to do is use gluten-free noodles. Everything else is naturally gluten-free!
- Lemon wedges versus lemon juice - Traditionally, lemon wedges are served on the side when ordering this pasta dish in a restaurant. However, I really beg to argue that adding the fresh lemon juice as a main component of the sauce is what makes it out-of-this-world, perfectly balanced.
- Add-in ideas - Some delicious add-in suggestions are steamed broccoli, green peas, oyster mushrooms, marinated artichokes, salty black olives, sun dried tomatoes, vegan parmesan, fresh basil (in place of parsley), kale, spinach, smoky tempeh bits, plant-based Italian sausage, steamed or grilled asparagus, toasted bread crumbs, etc.
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