Dad's Garlic Pasta

The trick to this simple dish is in the cooking of the garlic. Browned garlic has a bite to it that some consider bitter. Garlic cooked until soft but still white is sweet and mild. If you want an even milder garlic flavor try using elephant garlic. Fresh garlic is better. Organic fresh garlic is best.

Pasta cooking tip: Pour 2 cups of cold tap water in the pot the instant it is done and it will stop cooking. Then drain it.

Selecting Your Ingredients

I use either penne or linquini, but any pasta will do. The important thing is that the shape of the pasta hold the sauce. Linquini is flat and penne has ridges. Be sure to get good, extra virgin olive oil. This makes a huge difference. Organic extra virgin is better. If you don't have a pepper grinder, get one. They're cheap, and this also makes a big difference.

The amount of olive oil and garlic depends on how much pasta you are cooking and how strong you want the garlic. More oil and less garlic will be milder, more garlic in less oil will be stronger. Experiment.

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking make the sauce.

The Garlic Sauce

½ cup or so extra-virgin olive oil
4 or more cloves garlic

Put the garlic through a garlic press (I use a Zyliss) or crush and dice it very small. Place all the garlic on a plate or in a small bowl so you can add it to the oil all together.

Put olive oil in a small cast-iron frying pan. If you don't have one, you need one. A set of three or four cast-iron frying pans, properly seasoned, is a must for any kitchen. But, okay, you don't have a small cast-iron frying pan and you're not about to go get one now. So fine, use a small sauce pan with the thickest bottom you have (well, use the bottom you were born with, but find a thick-bottomed pan).

Place the pan on a burner over low heat.

Add the crushed garlic to the oil. Watch it closely. When the oil begins to bubble around the garlic turn the heat down a bit. You want to gently simmer the garlic, not boil it. When most of the garlic is floating it is done. Do not allow the garlic to brown at all. It should be white and soft.

Remove from heat immediately and place in a small covered bowl.


Drain the pasta and serve immediately. Serve the pasta and let each person spoon the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Accompaniments: Bread - Italian or a soft white home made. You want something that you can use to wipe your bowl. And a salad with an oil-and-vinegar dressing - something that will not compete with the garlic sauce.