If you find yourself doubling the amount of garlic in every recipe you make, do yourself a favor and make this pasta ASAP. With its one-two punch of garlic, it has earned its “Ultimate Garlic Pasta” title.
You start by roasting a whole head of garlic until the cloves are caramelized and jammy, which lends a sweet, concentrated flavor to the luscious olive oil sauce. Next, slice up a few more cloves and fry until golden. The slim, crispy garlic chips add bold, pungent flavor to each and every twirl. The finished dish is rich and super savory, and surprisingly easy to make.
At its heart, this is aglio e olio, the traditional pasta dish from Southern Italy. The name translates to “garlic and oil,” which speaks to its simplicity. And even though this is a fancy-pants version of the classic, you still probably already have everything you need to make it: dried pasta, olive oil, red pepper flakes, grated Parm, and, of course, an entire head of garlic. With the exception of the time it takes to roast the garlic (which can be done a day in advance), it’s quick and easy to make.
I love using toothsome bucatini here, which you may or may not be able to find. But if all you’ve got is spaghetti or linguine, don’t let that delay you. The pasta isn’t the point here. This time, it’s all about the garlic.
The Ultimate Garlic Pasta
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 medium head plus 4 cloves garlic, divided
- 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
- 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
- 1 pound dried bucatini pasta
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel off and discard the excess papery skins from 1 medium head of the garlic, then slice a thin layer off the top to expose the cloves. Place cut-side up on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Wrap the garlic completely in the foil.
Roast until the garlic is tender and caramelized, 45 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice the remaining 4 garlic cloves. Coarsely chop 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves.
About 20 minutes before the garlic is ready, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried bucatini pasta and cook 1 minute less than al dente, about 8 minutes or according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
When the garlic is ready, remove from the oven, unwrap, and set aside until the garlic is cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins into a small bowl.
Pour 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet, then arrange the sliced garlic in a single layer in the oil. Turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden-brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic chips to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Add the roasted garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the oil in the skillet. Cook, breaking the cloves up with a wooden spoon, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the reserved pasta water and bring to a vigorous simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bucatini and toss continuously until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and parsley and toss to combine. Taste and season with kosher salt as needed. Serve immediately, topping each serving with lots of grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of garlic chips.
The garlic can be roasted up to one day ahead. Let cool, then refrigerate the whole head still wrapped in its aluminum foil. Squeeze out the roasted cloves into a bowl before using.
Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to four days.
Spaghetti or linguine can be used in place of the bucatini.
Sheela Prakash is the senior contributing food editor at TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to email@example.com. Copyright 2021 Apartment Therapy. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.