Keeping your ingredient list simple is often the most effective way to prepare a dish, and pasta sauces are no exception. A simple sauce highlights only one or two different flavors, enabling you to enjoy the texture of the pasta. While basic tomato sauce is a classic choice, sauces featuring olive oil as the primary ingredient also lend themselves to a simple preparation and various flavors.
Although the sauce is an indispensable part of the dish, choosing the right pasta is important, too. Basic spaghetti or spaghettini stands up well to an olive oil sauce in shape and texture. Fresh pasta may absorb too much of the oil. When cooking your spaghetti pasta, use at least 4 qts. of water for each pound of pasta so it won’t clump together. Add 1 tbsp. of salt to the water before you add the pasta, and cook it to a slightly firm but flexible stage, or about eight to 10 minutes. Drain the spaghetti in a colander and don’t break it up at all before you boil it.
The Olive Oil
When the olive oil plays such a starring role in the dish, use an extra-virgin olive oil. Extra-virgin means it comes from the first pressing of the olives, and is cold pressed, so no heat or chemicals are used. Extra-virgin olive oil is more fragrant and flavorful than oil that comes from subsequent pressings.
Putting It Together
To construct a simple olive oil pasta dish, get your pasta boiling and heat about 1/2 cup of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add a few cloves of minced garlic to the oil to suit your taste, and cook it until it turns a pale golden color. Remove the skillet from the heat and add a handful of chopped parsley. Add your drained spaghetti noodles to the pan and mix everything together before serving.
Consider adding some complementary ingredients to the sauce if you’d like to liven up the taste a little. Grated Parmesan cheese adds a distinct flavor and creamy texture when mixed through the hot pasta. Sprinkling some chili flakes through the dish adds some spice. You can also add sautéed shrimp or diced chicken to make the dish more substantial.
Keep in mind that an olive oil-based sauce will be higher in calories than a tomato-based sauce.