Spaghetti with Garlic & Oil (Spaghetti Aglio e Olio) – The Recipe ReDux

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio |

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme married two of my loves: food & movies. With the Academy Awards just days away, we ReDuxers were charged with creating a healthy recipe inspired by our favorite food scene or featured dish from any movie, in honor of the Oscars. As much as the display of wealth and glamor can be stifling, I sheepishly admit, I love the buzz of Oscar night (I’m totally rooting for Argo.)

It was quite fun going through all my favorite movies in my mind, thinking of food scenes while trying to narrow down to the one recipe to make. Some had obvious foods scenes (Eat Drink Man Woman) and some did not (Sixteen Candles – though there’s that birthday cake in the last scene.)

But in the end, I knew it had to be from The Godfather series. My Italian-American hertiage totally draws me into these movies – Goodfellas, Moonstruck, Big Night. The mannerisms, the dialogue, the food are so relatable to my mother’s family (OK, except for the mafia references) – it’s like coming home when watching them.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (or spaghetti with garlic and oil) was inspired from a minor scene but one of my favorites from The Godfather, Part II. As young adult, Vito (Robert DeNiro) is meeting with his two friends Clemenza (Bruno Kirby) and Tessio (John Aprea) in his New York tenament home, discussing how to deal with the ruling neighborhood Don. Vito’s wife moves back and forth between the kitchen and dining room, handing over simple bowls of spaghetti as the men speak in Italian, with great gesturing to make their points, while expertly twirling their pasta, napkins tucked under chins.

bruno kirby in The Godfather Part II Young Tessio in The Godfather part II

Who knows what type of spaghetti they were eating but I guarantee it was a simple dish like most Italian pasta dishes – uncomplicated and using simple, fresh ingredients.

Some pointers to this recipe:

  • The spaghetti is cooked al dente – literally meaning “to the tooth” or slightly firm. In recent years, I’ve started to use half regular pasta with half whole wheat to up my whole grain intake. (DeCecco is my favorite brand, Barilla is a close second.)
  • When the pasta is done, do not rinse. Drain in a colander or simply transfer it with tongs to your sauce.
  • I make the sauce in a large skillet or frying pan while the pasta is cooking. Cook your aromatics first (I tend to go heavy on the garlic but lighter on the red pepper flakes.)
  • Add fresh herbs (here flat leaf parsley) and grated cheese right before serving.

I can just hear my Grandpop saying “Mangia! If you don’t eat, the heck with you!”

Spaghetti with Garlic & Oil (Spaghetti Aglio e Olio) – The Recipe ReDux

Serving Size: 4 - 6


  • 12 ounces spaghetti or linguine (I use half regular and half whole wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • Salt & pepper
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Grated Pecorino cheese


  1. In a large pot filled with boiling water, cooking spaghetti according to package instructions.
  2. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, saute for 5 - 6 minutes, stirring frequently, being very careful to not let the garlic burn (reduce the heat to medium low if it seems too high.)
  4. Add about 1/4 cup of pasta water (ladle it from the pot with the spaghetti) to make a sauce, let it cook a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Drain (do not rinse) spaghetti when it's done and add to the garlic and oil sauce. Stir together and cook for another minute until the pasta is covered with the sauce.
  6. Remove from heat and serve with flat leafy parsley and grated cheese. Add a few more dashes of red pepper flakes, if you desire.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio |

What is your favorite food scene from a movie? Who are you rooting for to win an Oscar this year?

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  1. Ahhh Deanna adore that you have gone for pasta. Divine garlicky pasta, indeed, but so good to show that carbs are not the enemy. Love your Nonnos phrase – I say to heck with being afraid of any single food.

  2. This is on my menu for Saturday night when friends are coming for dinner! Your photos are stunning my friend…

  3. Lovee aglio e olio- mine with extra chilli flakes! yumm!

  4. Such a simple recipe with so much heritage. Love that you chose Italian as your inspiration!

  5. This looks great!! Simple ingredients – nice combination!

  6. I like the family memories tied up with this food. So simple and yet so enticing.

  7. Yum! This is one of my favorite dishes from when I lived in Italy. My local pizzeria called it “Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino.” Ahhh … I miss those days. But at least I can make it at home! Thanks for the recipe. This dish is so delicious and yet so simple to prepare.

    • Technically, I should have called this “aglio olio e peperoncino” because indeed it does have red pepper in it! Ah, you lived in Italy – swoon. My sister did as well for 3 years and I tried to get over there as much as I could back then :)

  8. Well, you read my post today so you know that my boyfriend is obsessed with pasta!! So guess what he has decided is on the menu this weekend??!! I had to show him this because the Godfather are his favorite movies!! I think he might want to move in with you!! haha Great recipe Deanna! Will be sure to let you know what he thinks! :)

  9. Such a fun ReDux theme- sorry I missed it! You have prepared one of my all time favorite “comfort food” dishes :-) I have only seen Lincoln this year, so rooting for that!

  10. One of my favorite meals of ALL time! This is true comfort food…just looking at your version gives me warm fuzzies.

  11. I make this spaghetti all the time, easy and SO delicious!

  12. I might start using your Grandpop’s saying on my own family 😉 Great story behind this recipe

    • Kat – my Pop Pop has been gone 10 years now and I had forgotten he use to say that all the time teasingly. I totally am reviving the saying with my husband and 5 yr old now :)

  13. Love the simplicity of your recipe. Who doesn’t love the Godfather series. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Your recipe would be perfect for one’s own version of “dinner and a movie,” to watch the Godfather series again with friends and family.

    • OK, LOVE your idea of a personal “dinner and a movie.” I consider it sacrilegious that my sister has never even seen any of the Godfather movies (I’m fine with skipping the 3rd one though :)

  14. Great pictures. It looks very tasty. :) My family loves pasta. We will have to give this a try.

  15. Wow, that sounds SO good, I LOVE red pepper flakes on almost anything! Your pics are beautiful as always.

  16. Deanna, simply bellissimo! I am not Italian but embrace the Italian culture and cuisine like I am (is this illegal? Haha). I cook pasta for dinner 4/7 nights (our main meal being lunch) and I forget the simple pleasures of just spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. Going to make this next week! Buon Appetito.

  17. I adore spaghetti aglio e olio. Yours looks delicious!

  18. LOVE the pasta! Looks so good! But never saw the Godfather movies, sounds like I am missing out!

  19. Yum! I love Spaghetti Aglio e Olio! Reminds me of my childhood. We ate dishes like this all time time in my big family, it was cheap and filling!

  20. I love how this recipes offers a huge amount of flavour without being so saucy. Loves it!

  21. Love the simplicity. I have become friends with an Italian and LOVE cooking with her. Delicious, simple, uncomplicated.

  22. hello, i was wondering what other spice can i used to replace the red pepper flakes since i’m unable to find it… would the japanese chili pepper or the mexican chili peper be a good option? would it change the flavor of the dish? what is the flavor of the spaghetti like ? should it be spicy? sorry so many questions but i’ve never tried this type of pasta, but would love to do so now… thanks!

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