The Best 5-Ingredient Pasta Dish…Ever

By Jason Freely / a couple of months ago
The Best 5-Ingredient Pasta Dish…Ever
Photo by Wing (Ta) Ho of Canary Grey for Domino

As previously seen on Wit & Delight

Editor’s Note: Kate wrote this post in 2014, well before social distancing became a phrase we all knew and a thing we all practiced. And I must say, I was delighted to stumble upon the recipe in the archives. I happen to have each ingredient on hand at the moment (save for that exact kind of pasta, but we are alllll about substitutions right now) and have a feeling most of you do, too. Here’s to making something warm and comforting for ourselves in the days to come.

It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night and your fridge is empty. The temperature reads -8 degrees, and while Whole Foods is all of 8 blocks away, the thought of jumping in your car to peruse the salad bar feels similar to running 13.1 miles. Luckily, I almost always have the ingredients for my favorite simple meal on hand.

With only five ingredients, this pasta dish is deceptively simple—spaghetti coated with fragrant olive oil and infused with loads of garlic and red pepper. The dish is really elevated by execution, so don’t skimp on using fresh garlic cloves, and good olive oil and butter.

Here’s the recipe for my rendition of this simple Italian classic:

The Best 5-Ingredient Pasta

Serves 4 | 15-minute cooking time


  • 1 box of whole-grain spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, finely chop the fresh garlic. Sprinkle the garlic with a little bit of salt to help release some of the flavor.

3. Coat the bottom of a medium sauté pan with olive oil, then add the butter. Over medium heat, let the butter melt into the olive oil until it starts bubbling.

4. Add the garlic and red pepper. Lift the pan off the burner and sauté lightly until the garlic browns slightly. Remove from heat.

5. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain.

6. Move the cooked pasta to a shallow serving dish and coat thoroughly with the spicy garlic oil. I leave all the garlic bits in the oil, but you could easily run the mixture through a strainer.

7. Sprinkle the pasta with a generous amount of sea salt and cracked pepper and your eyes will be rolling back in your head with pleasure. Seriously.

8. Serve yourself an extra-large portion and savor!

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