Spaghetti and Garlic

Simplest is best.

Forty years ago, I tried to ride a Honda CD175 from Scotland to Greece, and back again; long story. I won’t bore you with the tale of how it started raining in Manchester, and stopped when I was coming back through Germany – but it was the worst rain storm in thirty years!

With only a brief respite as I crossed an Alpine pass from Lucerne to Lugano. An Italian mama served me this (as a starter!) in the youth hostel.

Hooked! And the simplicity has served me well. It has been a family staple at home and on bicycle camping trips for years.


  • Packet of spaghetti
  • Salt
  • A generous 3 tablespoons olive oil – the best you can
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
    • Optional – 1 or 2 small green chillis, finely chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • A good handful of parsley or coriander
    • Optional
      • for an extra bit of texture/flavour, fry 100g/4oz of breadcrumbs in 3-4 tbsp olive oil until crisp and golden.
      • some (lots of?) cheese; your call!


  • Bring a good sized pot of salted water to the boil and pop in the spaghetti to cook.
  • Finely peel and chop the garlic cloves. In a small frying pan, heat a good glug of the olive oil. When it’s hot, add the garlic, (finely chopped chillis (deseeded?) if using), and a good grind of black pepper; and turn the heat off. The idea is that the harshness of the raw garlic is softened, no more; you aren’t cooking it, just flavouring the oil.
  • When the spaghetti is ready, drain it – not too thoroughly – and return it to the pot; add the oil and garlic, and the chopped herb, and toss them through.
  • And serve. It really is that simple – except maybe a sprinkle of grated Parmesan, if you really wanted. Oh – and the fried breadcrumbs if you’re trying them.

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