Aglio E Olio. It’s my pesto

I have a friend, a wonderful friend who I constantly mock about his eating habits. Mainly since the day I met him in university until today, he has a bottle of pesto in his cupboard to which he eats from at least once a week. When I went over to his new flat, the first thing I did was hunt through the pantry in the kitchen and there it was, a jar of pesto waiting. Just as I thought. Never mind my creepy behaviour in stalking through someone’s kitchen.

Of course, I often pet myself on the back and tell myself I am not going to succumb to eating pesto every other day. That’s just gross. There are so many things out there to eat, I can’t be eating pesto every day. I’m not like that.

Recently though, Eizwan pointed out something. Something along the lines of *cough* hypocrisy *cough*. I may not eat pesto but for the past eight years or so but my go to meal when it comes to pasta is aglio e olio, garlic in oil pasta.

“Aglio olio. Is your pesto,’ he snarked.

I eat it at least twice a week, I can make it in my sleep if need be. Would not be surprised if one morning I would wake up with a bowl of aglio olio on my lap. Stranger things have happened. I can write an ode to aglio olio if need be. But that would be weird. *Goes off to pen an ode, never written an ode before*

I don’t eat it outside – it would be silly since I cook it so often. Besides I doubt anyone could cook it as well as I do *pats oneself on the back* So when I attended the FHM Convention (Food and Hotel Malaysia, not well, the other sexier convention), I tend to scoff at anyone who makes aglio e olio and scarf down the other pastries, roast duck, gelato, potato pancakes on offer. FHM Convention. Seriously beats the Invest Malaysia one.

I was going to ignore the chef on the convention who offered me the aglio e olio in a plastic cup until my brother tried it and started raving about it. I had to go back and try it, and he was right. It was the best garlic oil pasta I’ve ever had. I spoke to chef about it, raving about how amazing it tasted. He was so chuffed that a sweet young thing (gimme a break, I know that I’m approaching 30 but I had such a pretty dress on that day I’d like to think I came across as a SYT) was complimenting him incessantly, that in between blushes he told me it’s not the product he used (which I’m sure his boss would not be pleased to hear, considering chefs are usually hired to show off the product) but he explained to me how he did it.

‘Amazing! Best I ever had!’ I enthused.

‘Come back in half an hour’s time,’ he said. ‘I’m making basil pesto pasta,’ he continued with knowing wink. Perhaps my compliments to the chef may have been taken the wrong way, should I have returned in half an hour, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had gotten a phone number along with my samplings.

The trick I found out is in roasted garlic oil and lots of dried parsley. Of course he gave lots of advice on al dente pasta, but of course, we all know that by now, *flicks hair to the back* And despite the chef’s claim that the dish was wonderful due to his cooking prowess, I do believe that ingredients is key, so good olive oil, good spaghetti is in order.

I’ve never been keen on making garlic oil for fear of botulism. Ah, you toxic bug, you follow me everywhere in all the cooking experiments I do. But after much research online, I figure that high heat kills the bacteria, but to be safe than sorry, separate the garlic cloves from the olive oil when you’re done.

To make Roasted Garlic Oil


150 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 heads of garlic, peeled.

Cooking instructions

  1. Take about a 150ml of extra virgin olive oil and about 2 heads of garlic.
  2. Combine the two in an oven proof container. Roast the garlic at 150 degrees Celsius until the garlic turns golden. It should take about an hour.
  3. Wait till it cools. Separate the garlic cloves from the oil and store the oil in a clean, sterilized jar. Eat the garlic cloves with bread. If that is too much garlic cloves, you may store it in the fridge.

To make the Aglio Olio:

Ingredients (makes for two)

200gm spaghetti (Barilla Spaghetti no 5 for me)
6 garlic cloves minced finely (I love it garlicky)
1 tbs dried parsley (fresh is better, but I live in Asia, so…)
1 tbs dried chilli flakes (I like mine spicy)
4 tbs garlic oil we made earlier
4 cloves of roasted garlic (optional but tasty)

Freshly grated parmesan cheese, none of that canned stuff.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta till al-dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat up about 2 tbs of garlic oil per person. Add in the chopped garlic and let it simmer at a low heat until it turns golden.
  3. Season oil with a little salt. The chef used a little bit of brown sugar, but I did not feel it was necessary.
  4. Add in pasta. Toss it with dried chilli flakes and parsley.
  5. Grate parmesan on top and you’re done.

Tis a meal for writers. Really.


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