Pasta Aglio e Olio

Pasta aglio e olio

1 lb. spaghetti or linguine noodles
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, for medium heat (optional)
2 cups reserved pasta water
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus more as desired

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package. Before draining, reserve 2 cups of the pasta water for use in the sauce.

As the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook just until the garlic starts to color slightly around the edges, but not brown, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes, max.

Add 1½ cups of the reserved pasta water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat all noodles. Lightly cook until the pasta is heated through, stirring or tossing frequently, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the chopped parsley and 1 cup of freshly grated cheese; toss to combine. Allow the pasta to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Serve with freshly grated cheese on the side. Refrigerated leftovers can be served warm or cold.