A classic Italian pasta staple with a twist! There are a million aglio e olio recipes out there so I have added a delicious crispy crunchy cannellini bean and sourdough topping. Aglio e olio literally translates to garlic and oil, such a simple dish but hits the spot every time, plus it's vegan! Hopefully this will become an easy weeknight go to.
Aglio e Olio with crispy toppings
Hello! I am writing up this super simple Aglio e Olio recipe which I hope you will love. I wanted to put my own spin on this Italian classic and have done so with the addition of a crunchy topping. The crispy golden roasted cannellini beans and sourdough croutons are the perfect textural contrast. Adding sourdough croutons to a pasta dish is my favourite thing as it always soaks up the sauce so perfectly.
Can you believe this is my first olive oil based sauce? As my name suggests I am usually all about the butter so make sure you check out my guide to the best butter sauce. If you want to make your own fresh pasta make sure you use my homemade pasta dough. If you want to keep it vegan as this sauce is then you could make my gnocchi sardi or orecchiette as they are flour and water doughs. Any dried pasta will work perfectly too!
Ingredients for Aglio e Olio
This is definitely my own spin on the classic recipe, I'm not claiming this to be a traditional version by any means. The true classic aglio e olio is just olive oil and garlic but it is very common to add parsley and chilli which I have done here.
Pasta - Traditionally it's spaghetti but I used linguine as it is what I had in the cupboard. Anything will work!
Olive oil - There aren't many ingredients to hide behind in this dish so using the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can will make a big difference.
Garlic - I LOVE garlic so I have used 5 - 6 cloves. You could use less if you like.
Chilli Flakes - You could use fresh chilli but flakes are so easy. It adds a really nice little hum to the dish but you could definitely leave them out altogether.
Pasta water - This is a key ingredient here and makes up a big part of the sauce. Make sure you reserve ½ cup before you drain.
Parsley - I use Italian flat leaf parsley and chop it really finely.
Ingredients for the crunchy topping
The amount of topping is going to be more than you need but you can save the rest to top anything else, a salad, some vegetables - anything!
Sourdough - I use one slice from a big loaf. If you don't have any sourdough you could use any kind of bread you like.
Cannellini beans - Roasting cannellini beans in the oven makes them into the most moreish crispy little treats. Perfect to top this pasta or just eating by the handful. Make sure you drain, rinse and dry them really well for maximum crunch.
Tips for the best aglio e olio
- Get all your ingredients prepped and ready - this comes together really quickly so get everything completely prepped before you start cooking.
- Slice your garlic, don't mince it - very important and try and slice really thinly.
- Heat the olive oil slowly - you DO NOT want to burn the garlic and this is the only recipe I add the garlic to cold oil in the pan! You want a balance of enough time to infuse the flavour and not browning or burning the garlic. A slight bit of colour is fine! The heat should get to a point where there is slight sizzling.
- Undercook your pasta - I tend to do this in all my recipes to allow it time to bubble away in the sauce and take on flavour without overcooking.
Why pasta water is your best friend for aglio e olio!
You'll hear me harp on about the magic that is pasta water in 99% of my recipes. It really is a key ingredient in every sauce I make. The starch left behind in the water acts as a thickening agent and helps sauces cling to the pasta. I couldn't make a sauce without it. When I cook pasta I never EVER drain it in a colander, I always transfer it directly to the sauce using a spider strainer. That way the pasta pot full of water is left there for you to ladle in as you need. Pasta water is a key ingredient in aglio e olio and make sure you give it a really good whisk when you add it to the oil.
How much salt should I add to add to pasta water?
LOTS! Haha but seriously I add a lot of salt to my pasta water for this recipe. As you should when cooking pasta anytime! Pasta has zero seasoning it in, it's either flour and eggs or flour and water right? You might spend so much time making a perfectly seasoned sauce then you're going to add something essentially quite bland into it. You'd be shocked if you boiled some pasta with and without salt in the water and tasted the difference. Cooking in well salted water is key and the only chance you get to add some seasoning INTO the pasta. In a pot for two people you want to be adding at least a tablespoon of salt. Add the salt when the water is boiling and then taste it (be careful!), it should taste really salty like the sea.
Want some other sauces to try?
If you loved this and want to try a different version check out this cheesey aglio e olio I made for Yealands wines. For some other amazing vegetarian pastas check out my creamy tomato pasta sauce, my cacio e pepe with olives and basil or my creamy roast garlic and lemon pasta sauce.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print
Aglio e Olio with crispy toppings
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 2 people
A delicious spin on the classic aglio e olio pasta dish. Topped with crunchy cannellini beans and sourdough for the perfect finishing touch.
For the topping:
1 x 400g can cannellini beans
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 x slice sourdough, cut into roughly 1cm pieces
2 ½ tbsp olive oil, divided
For the pasta
200g pasta of your choice
⅓ cup olive oil
5 - 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ tsp chilli flakes (more if you like but also less if you don't like spice)
1 cup loosely packed cup flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped (you end up with 2 tbsp chopped)
Make the topping:
- Preheat your oven to 200C (400f)
- Rinse the beans well in a sieve and then pat try with paper hand towels to get them as dry as you can.
- Gently toss in a bowl with 1 ½ tbsp olive oil, the dried oregano, salt and pepper.
- Place on a lined baking tray and set aside
- Toss the sourdough pieces with 1 tbsp olive oil and place on a lined baking tray.
- Place the cannellini beans in the oven for 15 mins (I put them towards the top of the oven)
- After 15 mins lower the heat to 180c (350f), give the beans a toss and add the sourdough tray in.
- Keep baking both for another 15 - 20 mins until the beans and sourdough are both crisp and slightly golden (you may have to take one out before the other so please keep a good eye on them!)
- Once both are done, mix them together and give them a good sprinkling of salt. Set aside.
Make the pasta
- Cook your pasta in a pot of well salted water, undercooking by a minute (check your packet for cooking time)
- When your pasta has about 6 - 7 minutes to go put the oil and garlic into a fry pan and heat over a low heat.
- After a couple of minutes increase the heat to medium. You want the garlic to sizzle ever so slightly but NOT burn.
- When the pasta is almost done add the chilli flakes and let them sizzle for 30 seconds.
- When the pasta is done put ½ cup pasta water into the oil, it will bubble a lot so turn the heat down if it is too much! Whisk and shake the pan at the same time to really emulsify the sauce.
- Add your pasta straight in, giving it a good toss with some tongs.
- Let it bubble away for a good minute or two to thicken slightly. Add more pasta water if you need. It should not be on a high heat here just a nice gentle bubble.
- Add the chopped parsley, toss then serve between bowls.
- Top with as much of the topping as you like and feel free to add some parmesan too (if you aren't vegan as this recipe is incidentally vegan!)
- Feel free to substitute the oregano with any other dried herb you like.
- Spaghetti is the traditional pasta choice, I used linguine as that is what I had. It will work with absolutely any shape.
- Salting your pasta water is key in this recipe as there is no seasoning. You might want to add a good crack of salt on the finished dish, just taste to check!
- Don't be afraid to be vigorous when you add the pasta water into the oil, it needs to be whisked really hard to turn it into a sauce.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
I was super smart and got my husband to make this and it tastes delicious. It goes perfectly with a good book and wine.
Emilie Pullar says
hahaha I love this so much!! 🙂