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Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best (think fresh bread with creamy butter or slices of just-picked tomatoes), and that is especially true when it comes to pasta. And by Sunday night I want something straightforward and delicious. I found this sublime pasta recipe while I was browsing through a new cookbook, The Vegetarian Optionby Simon Hopkinson. (Hopkinson is a British chef and food writer who has created a vegetarian cookbook for non-vegetarians; the recipes are organized by forty different vegetables as well as as categories such as pasta, legumes, rice, and eggs. The writing is witty and his take on food is compelling--this book is definitely a worthy addition to your cookbook collection.)

This recipe defines simplicity: garlic, olive oil, chilis, and spaghetti come together for a flavorful pasta. It is such a comforting dish that it has become a permanent member of my recipe repetoire. Final note: because the recipe calls for only a few ingredients, be sure to use the best quality you can find and make sure the garlic is fresh!


  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large red chilis, thinly sliced
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful approximately a 1/4 inches in diameter dried spaghetti
  • Salt
  1. Cook the garlic and chilis very gently in a small pan with the olive oil, until the garlic (the aglio) is pale golden and both are crisp. Lift out wiht a slotted spoon and put onto a small plate; reserve the oil.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain well in a colander and rinse with warm water.
  3. Now take a large skillet (preferably nonstick) and add some of the flavored oil. Heat gently and then tip in the spaghetti. Turn and toss the pasta around until well coated with oil. Add the chili and garlic and toss until well dispersed.
  4. Turn the spaghetti onto two very hot plates, adding a little extra oil if you think it necessary. Eat without delay. Serves 2

Recipe courtesy Simon Hopkinson/Stewart, Tabori and Chang