White spaghetti also know as spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino, or spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili peppers, is one of the many fond food memories I have of my grandfather or Pop pop as I called him when I was a child. He went to walk with God when I was in middle school, and I miss him very much. He was a kind, gentle, patient man and an excellent gardener and cook. I never heard him raise his voice and never heard him gossip one word against another person. He was born in Italy and when he spoke you could tell. To this day, whenever I hear that “broken-English thick with Italian accent” spoken by anyone it always makes me tear up. There were several beautiful fruit trees in his yard and many vines of fragrant white grapes, as well as a bountiful garden.

The trick to this recipe is to cook your garlic slow in the olive oil so that the oil also becomes infused with the flavor of the garlic. I use a lot of garlic, a bulb to a pound of pasta. You can use as much or as little as you like. The olive oil that you use is up to you. It should be of good quality. Some prefer the more pronounced flavor of extra virgin and some prefer a milder flavor. I say use whichever you prefer.

Cook your pasta according to package directions. I prefer mine al dente. Do this while you are heating the olive oil in a pan that will be large enough to contain the oil and the cooked pasta, and slowly cook your garlic. You don’t want your garlic to burn as it will become bitter. I chop the garlic in rather large pieces and remove it for finer chopping later on and add it back in to help prevent this. You may start out with a fine chop from the beginning but you have to watch it very carefully. It is difficult to keep your oil at an even temperature with an electric stove. You may want to keep that in mind if you have one.

You want enough oil to evenly coat your pasta without it really dripping from it. I usually eyeball this and it does take some practice. Start with a half a cup of olive oil to a pound of pasta.  After your pasta is cooked and drained well carefully add it to your pot of olive oil and garlic. I stir it around and let it cook just a little so the flavor really penetrates the pasta. Keep this in mind when you are boiling your pasta so it does not become overdone and mushy during this stage. This recipe also calls for grated red pepper flakes. We add these at the table as everyone here does not enjoy the “heat” of the pepper flakes. We also pass the Parmesan cheese. A garnish of parsley is a nice finish and then all of the colors of Italy’s flag are represented by the green parsley, white pasta, and red pepper flakes. This meal goes well with a crusty loaf and a nice green salad with juicy ripe tomatoes and a good oil and vinegar dressing. This is a very cheap meal but I doubt you’ll hear any complaints.

We are enjoying this white spaghetti as a side dish today with broiled haddock and a salad.

What are some of your fond food memories that you associate with a loved one?