Back in July, my colleague, food columnist Jenn Harris wrote about cacio e pepe‘s current grasp on the American palate. Ubiquitous and delicious, it certainly qualifies as a divine dish that can be made start to finish in less than 30 minutes. But while cacio e pepe has a stronghold on restaurant menus and is easy enough to make at home, the real star of flavorful, home-cooked fast food is the dizzyingly delicious aglio e olio.
Pure Italian comfort food, it is as simple as three ingredients: thin stringy pasta, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Some add chopped parsley — for color and more flavor (if that’s really possible) as the combination of parsley, olive oil and garlic is a holy trinity.
Want to take it up a notch? Add sea urchin and clams. (There is a theory that aglio e olio is simply a version of linguini and clams minus the clams.) If you prefer to fashion your own variation, leftovers in your refrigerator are a good place to start — chicken, shrimp, legumes, greens. There is little that would not work as an addition.
Cacio e pepe may be having a moment in the spotlight but aglio e olio is in it for the long haul.