Put A Spicy Spin On Spaghetti Aglio E Olio With Calabrian Chiles

Spaghetti aglio e olio with Calabrian peppers
Spaghetti aglio e olio with Calabrian peppers - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

As a simple Italian pasta dish made with a handful of ingredients, spaghetti aglio e olio holds a cherished spot in Neapolitan cuisine. It's often served with little or no embellishment, allowing the quality of each component to shine on its own accord. The name itself says about all you need to know: classic spaghetti noodles form the base, joined by aglio e olio, which means "garlic and oil." Those are the core requirements for this easy-to-make dinner staple, and plenty of folks like to keep it that way.

However, even those devoted to authentic three-ingredient interpretations of spaghetti aglio e olio might like to spice things up occasionally. Some chefs do that with Parmesan cheese, black pepper, or crushed chili flakes, which changes the composition slightly or considerably, depending on the number of toss-ins. Then there's another approach: Keep the core ingredients of spaghetti, garlic, and olive oil for the dish, but add a spicy spin with a topping. That's exactly what takes place in a Tasting Table recipe featuring Calabrian chili peppers and breadcrumbs.

Make no mistake: Spaghetti aglio e olio gets a makeover with Calabrian peppers, even as a topping rather than an essential ingredient. With a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating of 25,000 to 40,000, they're many times hotter than jalapeño peppers and only slightly milder than cayenne peppers. But the heat level of Calabrian peppers isn't the primary transformer — it's the deeply nuanced spicy flavors tucked within those bright red skins.

Read more: 13 Unexpected Ingredients To Elevate Lasagna

Calabrian Peppers Spice Up Classic Neapolitan Pasta

Calabrian red chili peppers hanging
Calabrian red chili peppers hanging - Alberto Vitale/Shutterstock

It's no surprise that Calabrian peppers feature heavily in Neapolitan cuisine. The Calabrian region in which they grow lies south of Naples, in the famous boot of Italy. The warm, dry climate nurtures countless fields of its namesake pepper. Those perky little peppers bring some heat to classic spaghetti aglio e olio, but it's balanced nicely by the complexity of bright, fruity flavors with hints of smokiness.

Keeping the authenticity of a simple garlic-and-olive-oil spaghetti dish is important, so the peppers reside in the topping rather than being mixed into the sauce and pasta. Per the Tasting Table recipe, you'll create a topping made from a jar of chopped Calabrian peppers and a bag of plain breadcrumbs. Toast them together in a stovepot skillet or pan with no oil, stirring often until they turn dry and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

After making your spaghetti aglio e olio masterpiece, all that's left to do is sprinkle the Calabrian pepper breadcrumbs over the top, adding spicy, crunchy delight without overpowering the traditional taste of this Neapolitan dish. If you're ever lucky enough to visit Italy's Calabria region, keep in mind the popular September festival in the seaside town of Diamante, which celebrates the Calabrian chili pepper.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.