Spaghetti with Garlic and 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


  • 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.


  • Serving Size: 4 - 6

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio |

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


We’re Serena & Deanna, two dietitians who love food as much as you do!  

We're also moms and business owners who share our family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures while keeping it real in the kitchen with you.

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