Pasta olio, aglio e peperoncino

I was introduced to this super simple dish by my brother, @curiousdavide, after he returned from a six month stint in southern Italy. It hasn’t been exported into our culinary scene as easily as meatballs and lasagna, but let’s keep in mind that there are plenty of other hidden gems yet to land on our shores. In terms of preparation and effort, well, there really isn’t much to it. Think of it as a celebration of the pasta.

Pasta olio, aglio e pepperoncino
(serves 4)

400g pasta (the long flat type is best)
1-2 birds eye chilli
2-3 cloves of garlic
3-4 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

Bring some water to boil and season generously. It should be almost as salty as sea water. Add the pasta and then in another pot heat the olive oil (this is what will stop the dish tasting dry).

Finely chop the garlic and chilli, keeping them separate. Add the garlic to the olive oil and cook until golden. Absolutely do not overcook. Drain the pasta (which should have a bit of a bite) and throw in the chilli and a generous pinch of salt to the garlic and oil, closely followed by the drained pasta. Mix up and serve neat. Don’t add cheese.

The wine match

The following suggestions might struggle a little if you prefer a lot of heat from the chilli, but they will still be a worthy match. Apart from that there is nothing complicated about this dish. It’s all about the purity of the few ingredients here, and if seasoned properly you’ll not miss the meat or the vegetables. My choice is the savoury Farnese Trebbiano, those ‘nutty’ flavours combining well with the pasta and the oil. The Poggiobello Pinot Grigio is another fair shout, it even has a touch of spice which does no harm, and staying in the homeland, the Farina Soave and the Doricum Cattarato will help make for a true taste of Italy.

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