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Penne Aglio e Olio

This penne aglio e olio is an easy twist on a classic pasta dish. Serve it as a simple side dish for chicken or as dinner for meatless Monday!

close up photo of penne agilo e olio

Like most of the world, I am on a quest to eat healthier (at least in January haha). I’m also on a quest to spend less time cooking dinner at night.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just relax after work.

So on my quick recipe journey, I went to pasta. It’s always my go-to quick meal ingredient. A few ingredients later, I had unknowingly made pasta aglio e olio but with penne instead of spaghetti. 

And boom, my new go-to quick and semi-healthy weeknight dinner.

penne aglio e olio on a marble table

What is “Aglio e Olio”?

Aglio e Olio means “garlic and oil.” Traditionally, pasta aglio e olio is served with spaghetti noodles – spaghetti Aglio e olio is a traditional Italian pasta dish from Naples. I, however, do not care for spaghetti.

How to Make Penne Aglio e Olio

It all goes back to my early teen years and my time with braces and orthodontia. My particular dental gear was not suited for long noodles and after a bad experience, I still steer clear from spaghetti or linguine.

I decided to substitute spaghetti for one of my favorite noodles, penne. Prepare the penne per the box instructions (al dente) and the rest of the meal is made in a jiffy.

The hardest, and most time consuming, part of preparing this dish is chopping up the garlic and parsley.

penne agio e olio and a blue napkin

Can I use pasta other than penne?

Yep! These are great substitutions:

  • rigatoni
  • spaghetti
  • rotini
  • linguine

What can I add to this easy pasta recipe?

The world is your oyster. Like with my chicken tagliatelle recipe, you can add anything.

  • Vegetables are a great addition. Mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, and pepperoncini are my go-to’s.
  • Shrimp and chicken are great protein examples. Serving this under fish would be great too.

pasta aglio e olio on a marble table with a blue napkin

Can I make this aglio e olio recipe spicy?

You can make this recipe spicy with an addition or too. You can add more crushed red pepper flakes slowly until you get to the spiciness level you’re looking for. A 1/4 cup of finely diced jalapeño would easily give this dish a kick. 

Looking for other pasta recipes? Try these:

close up photo of penne agilo e olio

Penne Aglio e Olio

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This penne aglio e olio is an easy twist on a classic pasta dish. Serve it as a simple side dish for chicken or as dinner for meatless Monday!


  • 1 pound uncooked penne
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (approximately 6 cloves)
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh parsley
  • lemon zest


  1. Prepare the penne noodles per the box instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir frequently and when the garlic's edges begin to brown, add the crushed red pepper. Sauté for an additional 30 seconds. Add the reserved pasta water and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the cooked pasta to the pot. Toss carefully, then stir in the salt and parsley. Allow to rest for an additional 5 minutes off the heat before serving.
  4. When serving, top with fresh lemon zest.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 286Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 357mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g

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