Christmas Eve Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Merry Christmas Eve!

Most families have their traditions around the holidays about what dishes they make, or what desserts they bake for the family.  On Christmas, my family has a tradition to make spaghetti aglio e olio. We also do the feast of the seven fishes, but the spaghetti is what I always remember.

I also thought it would be fun to show you a handful of different shapes of pasta! The shapes are endless and homemade pasta is far superior to pasta in the grocery store.  Around the holidays, life can get pretty busy, so buying a fresh pasta from a store might be your best option for the spaghetti aglio e olio!


At Drexel during my culinary lab we practiced with two different doughs.  One was a soft wheat flour and egg yolk based dough.  The other was a simple semola and water dough.  With these two doughs we were able to make five different shapes in class.  The weeks after, we used the same dough to make stuffed pasta – one with a chicken and mortadella filling, and the other with a butternut squash filling.

We rolled dough extremely thin to make angel hair, fettuccine, pappardelle, farfalle, cavatelli, and garganelli.  My favorite shape to make is the garganelli.  This shape is made with the egg based dough, and is a tubular pasta.  The board used to get the texture/lines on the dough can be used to make the cavatelli too.  It is not expensive to get one and I would highly recommend this tool to anyone who likes to make pasta (stocking stuffer?!).


An all purpose egg yolk pasta dough (made with egg yolks and flour), and a all purpose semola flour dough (made with only flour and water).  We used a hand crank pasta roller to make our shapes.


Cutting squares of dough for our Garganalle


A pile of garganelle after being rolled.


Fettuccine and Angel Hair Pasta


A big bowl of pasta was on our Thanksgiving table this year too!

Spaghetti aglio e olio is pasta with sautéed garlic and olive oil, and it is so delicious when made with fresh pasta, and a great olive oil.  My dad always makes toasted anchovy breadcrumbs, which give an amazing crunch and umami taste.  I can’t wait!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio



  • 1 lb pasta (preferably fresh)
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • pinch of crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

Anchovy Breadcrumbs:

  •  1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  6 to 8 anchovy fillets
  •  4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  Coarse black pepper
  • 1 cup homemade breadcrumbs or panko
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  •  1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano



  1. Heat a pot of water, with enough salt in it that it tastes like the ocean (a good handful)
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add the red pepper.
  3. Take about 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking liquid and add it to the garlic mixture.  Over medium heat, let the sauce reduce for about 5 minutes.  It should reduce to less than half of its original amount.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, you can cook your pasta to the instructions on the package.
  5. Once the pasta is done, add it to your garlic mixture.
  6. Toss the pasta with parsley and cheese, taste and season with salt or pepper to taste, and serve with the anchovy breadcrumbs

Anchovy Breadcrumbs:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the anchovies and cook until they are well combined.
  2. Add the garlic and pepper and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and heat until toasted.
  4. Let cool, then combine with the parsley and cheese.

*Enjoy the pasta topped with the anchovy breadcrumbs for an added texture and umami taste!


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