What's for Dinner, Barbara-jo? Jim Byrnes' Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil


Jim byrnes' Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

This is my definitive go-to when time is short and folks are hungry. It couldn't be much simpler and it couldn't be much better. ~Jim


1 pound of spaghetti

3/4 cup of good (and I mean good) olive oil, divided

8 thinly sliced garlic cloves

red pepper flakes, to taste

minced flat leaf parsley

Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese (optional)


Cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water. You know how to do that, don't you? Cook it just shy of al dente, let's say a minute less than the package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve the cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat six tablespoons of that good olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the thinly sliced garlic and a pinch of those red pepper flakes. Cook very gently until the garlic is lightly golden. Be careful not to overcook the garlic; gentle is the key word here.

Transfer pasta to the skillet along with 1/2 cup or so of the cooking water. Increase the heat and cook, stirring and tossing rapidly until a creamy sauce forms and coats the noodles. Remove from the heat, drizzle with remaining olive oil and fold in the parsley. You can also add some good Parmesan or Pecorino if you have it on hand, although a Sicilian might frown at that - it's up to you. Pofta Buna! (As they say in Romania.)


Jim Byrnes is an award-winning musician, actor and broadcaster.