In all the years I thought about making a food blog, I always knew this would be the first recipe I would post. My love of food and passion for cooking go all the way back to childhood, but this was one of the first simple dishes I learned to master and perfect in high school.
I’m convinced that some of the best dishes in life have minimal ingredients but loads of flavor. When I was in Italy last year, the best thing I ate the whole trip was a bowl of risotto that was served out of a giant wheel of parmesan. All it was: risotto, butter, white wine, and parmesan cheese. Seriously! Now, there are times when I love to work with a long list of ingredients and see how many different textures and flavors I can work into one dish. But those kinds of meals are for Saturday experiments and are not practical for a weeknight. This pasta dish is a bi-weekly staple in my life. It’s SUPER easy, comforting, and delicious!
It all started when my sister Erika studied abroad in Germany during my freshman year of high school. When she came home for Christmas Break after the first four months of being away, I was ecstatic to spend every moment with her for a few weeks, soaking up all the details from her adventures abroad. We had sleepovers every night that December and usually stayed up until 2-3 AM just laughing and talking about life. We always snuck into my parents’ kitchen for a late night snack—but in my house, late night snacks usually aren’t something simple like a bag of chips. Strombergs always have to go and make a mess; we have to get out pots, pans, and cutting boards to whip up something to suit our late night cravings. Just ask Eric—we have a deal that I do all the cooking and he does all the cleaning. That poor man is always cleaning up the hurricane I leave behind in the kitchen!
Erika had a friend from Albania who taught her how to make this garlic pasta while she was abroad, and when she came home she shared it with me. It has since become a staple in our household. It is essentially pasta aglio e olio, but with a twist (the secret ingredient that makes this pasta a little different: paprika!). This pasta is simple, garlicky, and will easily fix a late-night hankering for carbs. I have added my own flares to the original recipe, and I have a few variations of the recipe depending on what I’m in the mood for or who I’m cooking for (stay tuned for my post on what I call Eric’s pasta—coming soon).
This is the pasta you make when you only have 15 minutes to whip up a quick dinner. This is the pasta you make when you want a warm, comforting bowl of carbs on a cold night. This is the pasta you make at 3 AM when your sister is in town and you both need a late night snack. This is the pasta you make for your 6-year anniversary dinner on a school night so you’re short on time but you really want pasta and you love each other enough to eat something loaded with garlic for a romantic dinner. Have I mentioned how often I make this pasta?
It’s very simple, and it doesn’t have many ingredients. So I cannot stress enough that the ingredients you use have to be top notch quality!
A quick word about cheese: if possible, you should ALWAYS use freshly grated cheese. I have not purchased pre-shredded cheese of any kind in 2 years and I have never looked back. It only takes an extra minute to grate cheese by hand but it makes a world of a difference, trust me!
1 lb linguine, spaghetti, or other long noodle of your choice
2/3 cup good quality olive oil
5-6 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving, if desired
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil & season generously with salt. Cook the pasta until al dente.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic, paprika, and pepper flakes and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Drain pasta and immediately toss back into the pot. Pour olive oil mixture over the pasta and toss to coat all the noodles.
- Top the pasta with the fresh Parmesan and parsley & serve.