Garlic can do so much more than add basic pungency. In this dish—a revision of Italy’s spaghetti aglio e olio, literally spaghetti with garlic and oil—we use it to add layers of flavor and texture. First, we toast thinly sliced garlic in olive oil, creating a crispy-savory garnish for the finished dish. That same oil, now infused with garlic flavor, is used to sauté briny-sweet shrimp, delivering plenty of garlicky richness, minus the harsh bite. To finish, lemon zest, juice and parsley are tossed in, adding fresh, bright notes.
Be sure to look for large garlic cloves, which are easier to slice thinly. Also, make sure to purchase extra-large shrimp (also labeled 21/25 per pound) so they remain tender and plump. Smaller shrimp can easily overcook in the time called for in this recipe.
Though a chef’s knife works, the easiest way to slice garlic thinly and evenly for crisping is a mandoline. Be sure to leave the root end on the cloves; this makes a good handle. We also suggest wearing a cutting glove to protect your fingers.
Toast Your Garlic, Season Your Oil
To mellow garlic’s bite, give it a pleasantly crispy texture and create a garlic-infused oil all at once, we slice garlic cloves as thinly as possible. We then toast them for 1 to 2 minutes in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium until lightly browned. They then can be transferred with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, leaving the flavorful oil behind for cooking protein or vegetables.