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Milk Street Bowtie Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Tomatoes and Basil

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Tomatoes and Basil

4 to 6 Servings

25 minutes

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Classic Italian pasta aglio e olio, or pasta with garlic and oil, is made with those ingredients and little else. This version gets an infusion of bright color and fresh flavor from halved grape tomatoes and chopped basil (or parsley). We boil the pasta until just shy of al dente, then reserve about ¾ cup of the cooking water and drain. The noodles will finish cooking when returned to the pot along with the tomatoes and some of the cooking water. This technique allows the pasta to absorb the flavors of the sauce and become better integrated with it.

4 to 6



Don’t forget to halve the tomatoes. It’s a bit time consuming, but worthwhile, so that the tomatoes soften slightly and relinquish some of their juice during the brief cooking time.

25 minutes

1 pound spaghetti
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil OR flat-leaf parsley
Finely grated Parmesan OR pecorino Romano cheese, to serve
  • 1

    pound spaghetti

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 4

    medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • ½

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1

    pint grape tomatoes, halved

  • ½

    cup chopped fresh basil OR flat-leaf parsley

  • Finely grated Parmesan OR pecorino Romano cheese, to serve


Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Tomatoes and Basil

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Tom N.
September 12, 2022
Fantastic bright cheery pasta dish
I added on anchovy fillet with the garlic, and halved the red pepper. Completely great!
William W.
July 16, 2022
Super delicious
I just got done harvesting the garlic in my garden, and wanted a simple dish to try it out. This recipe was the perfect choice. I had to use store-bought tomatoes, because my cherry tomatoes haven't ripened yet, but the garlic was the hit of the dish. I used 6 large cloves (one head) of Music garlic, so it was probably about twice as much garlic as the recipe calls for. Also, being freshly harvested meant it was much more moist than normal, and so needed to cook much longer to get lightly browned (took me 5 or 6 minutes). I think this will become my new garlic-harvest reward dish.
Ted O.
July 17, 2022
Needs a lot of help
Not very flavorful. I think it would be better to flavor the oil with a whole or half white onion and then discard the onion and then start the recipe. Then add more basil and some dried oregano.
Elizabeth W.

How do I get a print copy of a recipe?

Lynn C.

Hi Elizabeth -

You can print a copy of the recipe from the website. On a computer, to the left of the ingredient list there is a small black flag that says "PRINT." On a phone or iPad, you print as you would any webpage by clicking the "share" button at the bottom of your phone (the one that looks like a square with an arrow) and selecting "print" from the list of options.

The Milk Street Team

Chris W.

Those tomatoes look like a chopped regular one vs halved grape tomatoes. Which are they?

Lynn C.

Hi Chris -

You're right! The wrong image was posted with the recipe. We've updated the file to the proper photo. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

The Milk Street Team

Rajat S.

This is a weekly pasta dinner with some variations:
a) Slow cook the sliced garlic in olive oil for upto 30 mins without browning so that it almost melts while you prep the remaining ingredients.. Use as much as a full garlic bulb here.. Slow cooking really reduces the pungency.. Another flavor bonb that can be added is a table spoon of Anchovy paste at this stage..
b) Add mushrooms - any kind of mushrooms will do..I prefer to cook separately and add to the pan just before the pasta.. A table spoon of lemon zest adds a really good citrus flavor.
c) A finely sliced shallot, lamb sausage and goat cheese (instead of parmesan) and a sprig of mint leaves makes another nice creamier version. Reduce the amount of garlic to 2-3 cloves so that it does not overpower the sausage and cheese. Add some peas for some color..

Lynn R.

A good hack to easily halve the cherry tomatoes: use two of the plastic lids that come on many (round) to go containers from olive bars or similar plastic containers. Set 1 on counter, “rim” side up (to keep tomatoes in place/from rolling), put the tomatoes in the lid and place the 2nd lid on top of tomatoes, rim side down. Gently but firmly press on lid and using a sharp and/or serrated knife, slice the tomatoes horizontally between the two lids. Long explanation but in real time all this might take 1 minute and you will halve many tomatoes in short time …

Offering this up because, on the tv segment, the chef prepping the dish commented that halving the tomatoes was time-comsumimg …

Kristin M.

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