I can’t believe it has taken me so long to write about this dish, but I realised the error of my ways after I made it last night as the focal dish in my step mothers birthday dinner. I did this, as this pasta is a dish I made for her years ago one Sunday evening which we ate while watching some golden oldie on TV. She always brings up this meal as being such an unexpected delight!
My discovery of this dish, many years ago, was just as unexpected. A girlfriend and I had met up for a few drinks after work, which lead to a few more. The waiter kept asking if we wanted to eat something and eventually we felt bad and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu just to placate him. What we received was a dish of plain steaming hot pasta with three small bowls on the side containing chilli in olive oil, garlic in olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Initially we thought it was a joke… but too shy to say anything we spooned over the sides onto the pasta and started to eat. What a revelation! This is a truly alchemic combination. So many years later the two of us still giggle about that evening as we were in ecstasies over this absurdly simple meal.
Over the years I have tried to improve on this dish by adding cherry tomatoes, crispy bacon bits, chopped basil or sundried tomatoes and I can honestly tell you that they add nothing. It is at its best just like that.
This recipe is at its best when the ingredients you use are the best you can afford. I have however made it with stock standard ingredients and it is still awesome.
Pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli
Serves 2 with enough for seconds (and you will have seconds)
250g of your favourite spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle, cooked and drained
2 large cloves of garlic
2 medium sized chillies
¼ - ½ a cup of olive oil
1 tsp of salt
50g of parmesan, grana padano or pecorino, grated
While you pasta is cooking, chop or slice up your chilli and garlic (chopped disperses the flavour better, sliced looks pretty) and combine them with the olive oil and salt.
Drain the pasta, toss through the chill and garlic oil and serve scattered with loads of parmesan.