aglio e olio, (a love affair), and orzo salad with seasonal vegetables

i remember the first time i ever tasted linguine aglio e olio. i fell in love with it right there and then, and have been faithful ever since.  i was 18 at the time, and it was my first time traveling any where without my parents. we took off early in the morning by train, and when we arrived at limone piemonte, there was so much snow that we could see nothing but a white wall from the train window. it was a beautiful place, but it was so cold (and still snowing) that we huddled up in the small apartment (of a local friend) that night trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. there was dry pasta, garlic,  & olive oil-you know, staples in an italian household. so my (lovely italian) friends made us linguine aglio e olio. we topped it with amazing parmesan cheese. i could have eaten pounds of it. to this day, it is our go to meal at home when we are hungry and need to make a quick, easy, and satisfying meal. sometimes i chop up fresh tomatoes and basil (or any other fresh herbs i have) and pour the aglio e olio over them right before i add my pasta and serve (the hot oil cooks the tomatoes just enough where they are still fresh). often i use it in my pasta salads, such as the orzo salad coming up below.

ingredients:

  • 4-5 tbs (or so) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed slightly)
  • pasta of choice
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 -1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ground pepper (to taste)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • a few sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley or basil
  • small sliver of green bell pepper

this could not be any easier:

since you are using very few ingredients in this dish, the quality of your ingredients will make a difference- use good quality olive oil, fresh herbs, and parmesan cheese.

1. boil water with salt (1 tbsp) in a deep pot for your pasta. add the pasta and cook per package instructions (unless you are using fresh).

2. in the mean time, heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan. add the smashed garlic, red pepper flakes, (and optional bell pepper) before the oil gets too hot (should not splatter or sizzle too much when you add the garlic). as you can see, i add a few small slivers of bell pepper (this is something i learned from my friends-it keeps the oil from getting too hot too fast, and adds a touch of flavor). as soon as the garlic starts getting a little golden, turn off the heat,  leaving the garlic in the oil to continue cooking and flavoring your oil (the garlic should be a slight golden brown-otherwise it is burnt).

3. when your pasta is cooked al dente-which means cooked, but with a slight bite to it (my friends used to throw the pasta at the wall-supposedly it was ready when it stuck), drain, and reserve about a 1/4 cup of the water. remove the garlic (and bell pepper) from the olive oil, add the reserved water, chopped herb of choice, and sea salt and pepper to taste. coat your pasta with the aglio olio, give it a good toss, and top with parmesan cheese. you can use this basic recipe to make many variations of pasta sauces-add fresh tomatoes and herbs, mushrooms, ham, or seafood (like clams). yesterday i made a grilled vegetable and orzo salad using aglio olio as my base for flavor. the recipe {to serve 6-8} is below:

  • 10-15 mushrooms, cubed
  • 1 each of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers-cubed
  • 4-5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked orzo
  • aglio e olio- from recipe above
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus (about 20), cut into small pieces
  • 1 each of red, yellow, & orange bell peppers-cubed
  • 3 small tomatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • small bunch of fresh basil leaves (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tbs toasted pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
  • sea salt &  freshly ground pepper
  • thinly sliced green onions

1. wash and cube all the vegetables, 

spread them on a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil, add salt & pepper (to taste), and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 375 degree until tender.

2. cook (al dente) and drain orzo per package instructions, set aside. 
3. cube tomatoes
4. thinly slice green onions and basil.
5. make your aglio olio.
6. crumble feta cheese.
7. combine all your ingredients including pine nuts and pumpkin seeds together (making sure the vegetables have cooled off first), add salt & pepper
basil chiffonade
layering the ingredients: orzo, tomatoes, aglio e olio,
basil, & feta cheese…
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2 Comments on “aglio e olio, (a love affair), and orzo salad with seasonal vegetables

  1. Pingback: brown rice pasta with heirloom tomatoes & arugula | Cooking Minette

  2. Pingback: we {finally} got a grill: a deliciously easy grilled (london briol) dinner | Cooking Minette

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