My father, known as “Papa” to his seven grandchildren, has always been a foodie. When I was growing up, he was the master turkey roaster for the holidays and made the best pancakes and waffles. Once my sisters and I were grown, my dad had more time to expand his recipe repertoire and hone his skills. One of our favorite dishes he makes is angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. It is such a simple, delicious dish if you take the time to do it right. Papa’s trick to cooking al dente angel hair pasta is cooking it in a large pot full of salted water. Too little salt, too little water or a pot that’s too small will result in a sticky, bland pasta—a grievous offense to any pasta connoisseur.
1 pound angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti
2 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves minced garlic
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- Bring a large 6- to 8-quart pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Gently place the angel hair pasta in the pot, stirring as it cooks to ensure the pasta is not sticking together.
- Boil the angel hair pasta for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente—just tender but still has a little chew to it.
- Pour the pasta into a large strainer and drain it well. Drizzle it with another couple of tablespoons of olive oil and set it aside.
- Place the pot back on the stove and turn the heat up to medium. Add in the remaining olive oil and salt. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes.
- Heat the pepper flakes in the olive oil for 10 to 15 seconds, and then add in the minced garlic. Sauté for another 10 to 15 seconds or until fragrant.
- Pour the drained pasta back into the pot and toss to coat with the olive oil mixture. Turn off the heat and toss one more time before transferring the angel hair pasta into a large serving bowl. Serve the pasta with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
This article was originally published in the May 2023 issue of 225 magazine.