Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil; Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

By Ira

This is the very best pasta with garlic and olive oil. It’s very hard to get the combination of raw and cooked garlic in pasta so that it doesn’t overpower the dish, but America’s Test Kitchen solved this problem.

If you don’t like spinach salad, you should try this one. You’ll be finding yourself going for seconds for both the pasta and the salad.

How do you get everything to the table at once? Start by getting all the ingredients ready for both the salad and the pasta. Then cook the onion for the salad but don’t add the garlic and vinegar to it yet. Now completely finish the pasta. Quickly heat up the onion again for the spinach salad, add the garlic, then the vinegar mixture. Pour it over the spinach along with the bacon. Toss and serve everything all at once.

Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil

Serves 4 to 6 (or much less in our family) – From Here in America’s Test Kitchen

  • salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, separated
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic (about 30 small, 20 medium, or 10 large)
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Note: this pasta dish tastes so good as it is that I do not add any cheese on it. The Maldon sea salt is used on the pasta when combining everything and it gives it a nice crunch, but regular salt also works well. You might want to use a mini food processor to mince the garlic, or you can use a garlic press like I do which takes only 2 minutes.

In very large pot, bring about 4 quarts of water to boil, add salt, then spaghetti. Stir the separate the noodles, and cook according to package instructions.

Reserve 1/3 of the pasta cooking water just before draining.

While the water is heating, you can start preparing the sauce.

In a nonstick 10 inch skillet, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. You will notice that the garlic will slightly change color but do not let it burn.

Take it off the heat, and stir the additional 1 tablespoon garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water.

When pasta is ready, add it to a large pasta serving bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the rest of the reserved pasta water.

Toss to combine, then add the garlic mixture and the Maldon sea salt.

Toss again to combine and serve warm.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Serves 4 to 6 – Adapted from Inside America’s Test Kitchen

The only change I made to this recipe is reduce by half the amount of bacon as I didn’t want it to overpower the dish.

  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped medium
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 hard cooked eggs

To cook the eggs, place them in a medium saucepan, cover with 1 inch water and bring it boil over high heat.

Once it starts boiling, take it off the heat and put the lid on, and set it aside for 10 minutes.

Then take the eggs out of the hot water and place them in a bowl of cold water with ice.

Wait another 5 minutes, then peel them and quarter them lengthwise. This is the way to get perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs without the inner dark ring.

Put the spinach in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt until the vinegar dissolves.

Fry the bacon in a medium skillet on both sides, until crisp.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Break into pieces and set aside.

Remove and discard the fat from the skillet leaving only 1/2 tablespoon.

Add the onion over medium high heat and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the garlic for 15 seconds,

then remove from heat and add the vinegar mixture. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon,

then pour the hot dressing over the spinach,

add the bacon, and toss gently.

Divide among plates, add the egg quarters on each plate.

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