This past weekend I cooked dinner for a friend’s bachelorette party, and served this fantastically flavorful spaghetti to 15 lovely ladies. I took my grandma’s spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil) up a notch by featuring marinated tomatoes. As you can see from the pic, I made enough to serve an army – but below I show the normal recipe. If you want to serve a crowd like me, you can easily double this and even make most of it the night before. Which coincidentally will not only save you time day of, but will add more flavor to this classic Italian dish.
The following serves 4-5 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Half a head of garlic cloves, plus a few extra cloves, minced
- Red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- Fresh basil, sliced into ribbons about 1/4-1/2 cup worth (stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll like a cigar and then thinly slice into ribbons)
- 1 lb thin spaghetti
- Grated parmesan or romano cheese
Heat oil until it’s hot in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. You don’t want to boil the oil, so just watch it. After a few minutes test to see if it’s ready by dropping a little piece of minced garlic in. If the garlic floats to the top and starts to sizzle the oil is ready. Carefully add the rest of the half a head of minced garlic, and reduce heat to low. Add a good pinch of red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the garlic in the oil until the garlic looks like it’s just about to begin to brown, stirring often. Turn off the heat and move the saucepan to another burner that hasn’t been used. Allow the oil to cool.
Add the sliced tomatoes to a large mason jar along with the remaining minced garlic and sliced basil. Top with the cool oil, along with all the cooked garlic and seasonings in the saucepan. Secure with mason jar lid. The longer you’re able to let the tomatoes marinate, the more flavorful this dish will be. I recommend doing this the day before and just allow the tomatoes to marinate in the fridge. If you want to eat this the day of, try to let them marinate for at least 4 hours.
When you’re ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous amount of salt. Cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Meanwhile to a large skillet over medium heat, add most of the oil from the marinated tomatoes, but don’t add the tomatoes – reserve those for later.
Right before you’re ready to strain the spaghetti, reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Strain spaghetti and immediately add it to the skillet. Add some of the starchy water, 1/4 cup at first. Toss the spaghetti in the oil for a minute or two. Add a little more of the starchy water if needed.
Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and the remaining oil from the mason jar. Toss well. Top with a little more fresh basil and serve along with grated cheese.