If you’re in Naples, Italy with a group of friends out for the night, you might invite them all over to your place and make Midnight Spaghetti, or Spaghetti Aglio E Olio.
What is Midnight Spaghetti?
Spaghetti aglio e olio is just garlic, olive oil and pasta mixed together for a quick meal or snack. This spaghetti recipe, adapted from Saveur magazine, is a kicked up, adult version of this and makes a full blown meal. Get ready to see how this dish gets taken to Flavor Town.
Making the Spaghetti Dish
First off, peperoncini, or crushed red chile pepper flakes get added to the extra virgin olive oil and slivered garlic. One half to one teaspoon gives a nice amount of spiciness and mouth feel. I saw one recipe that called for 1 tablespoon of pepper flakes…now that would get your attention. Make sure you’ve got some cold milk ready after you eat that! I used 1/2 teaspoon in this batch and the heat was just slightly noticeable. I’d recommend using more than this if you like things hotter.
Next, the anchovies. I know some folks are squeamish when it comes to this salty fish, but midnight spaghetti would be nothing special without them. Fact of the matter is, you can’t taste them in the finished dish. They just add loads of umami and smooth out the acidity of the tomatoes. I used 8 fillets and a tablespoon of the oil they are packed in. After 4 or 5 minutes in the hot skillet they can be broken down and dissolved into the oil.
Capers are also a welcome addition to just about any recipe. They give an instant pop of flavor and are delicious in the tomato sauce. Just drain them but don’t rinse them as some recipes tell you to do. You want the salt that’s prevalent in the capers.
The tomatoes I used were peeled, whole San Marzano, 28 ounce can, which were pureed in a food processor. San Marzano’s seem to have more flavor than your standard crushed or diced tomatoes and I prefer them in Italian recipes. As you can see, this is a lot of sauce…plenty for 6 or more people when combined with enough pasta. Especially if is served as an after party midnight spaghetti snack. A full pound of cooked pasta should work for this. You’ll most likely need a deeper skillet to toss this together.
Fresh parsley and some grated parmesan or pecorino romano is stirred in before adding the pasta.
This is the midnight spaghetti with 5 ounces of cooked pasta. We ate this and had a pint of leftover sauce which I froze for another meal.
I’ve only seen whole San Marzano tomatoes in 28 ounce cans which is what I used. A batch of this made with a 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes would be enough for 2 to 3 people.
Toasted baguette was rubbed with a garlic clove and pulsed into crumbs in a food processor. This is a nice additional textural element in the midnight spaghetti. Finish the dish with a bit more cheese. The last thing to do is to drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil over the pasta. The flavors really pop when you do this.
Make midnight spaghetti as a main course or as a late night snack. The complexity of flavors is amazing.
Midnight Spaghetti Recipe
Pasta main course or a late night snack for a group of friends.
- 1 lbs spaghetti or other pasta, cooked al dente
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, slivered
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 8 anchovies and 1 tbsp of the packing oil
- 28 oz. Whole San Marzano tomatoes, pureed in food processor
- 1/3 cup drained capers
- 1 1/2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- toasted, crumbed baguette if desired
- extra virgin olive oil for final drizzle on the pasta
Cook pasta in salted water until it is al dente according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
In a large skillet, add olive oil, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes then add the anchovies and packing oil. Cook 4 or 5 minutes and use a fork to break up and dissolve the anchovies.
Add the tomatoes and capers and cook until slightly thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and the parsley. Stir to melt the cheese. Then add the cooked pasta and toss to combine.
If desired, slice a baguette into 3 or 4, 1/2" slices and place 6 to 8 inches under a broiler to toast. Turn and toast the second side. Watch the bread closely as it browns fast and will burn easily. Rub both sides of the toast with a garlic clove, then crumb by hand or by pulsing in a food processor.
Serve the midnight spaghetti with bread crumbs, parmesan, and a drizzle of good olive oil.
Adapted from Saveur magazine.