Capellini with Garlic & Chili Flakes

Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: as many as you like
Once the water comes to a boil for your pasta, be sure you’re ready to go if using capellini, as it cooks super fast. Be sure to reserve some of the cooking water, too—you’ll need a little to loosen the sauce, if we can even call it that (really, it isn’t). Regarding the chili flakes, dried ones have a shelf life, so best to buy it in small quantities, unless you use it every day. And store it in the fridge or freezer to keep it fresh (a good tip for all of your dried spices).


  • Capellini or Spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic per person
  • Chili flakes or chopped pepperoncini, as much as you can handle
  • Fresh chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley (optional)
  • Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Locatelli cheese


  1. About 2 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, heat some oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat until shimmering. How much you need depends on how many people you’re feeding. Let’s say 2 tablespoons per 2 ounces of dried pasta (that’s equal to 1 serving).
  2. Add the garlic and chilies to the pan. Shake it a few times to swirl the garlic and chilies, and prevent them from burning. Remove from the heat.
  3. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water (1/4 cup per serving). Add the pasta to the skillet, and give it a good toss to coat the pasta evenly. Stir in some of the water just to loosen the strands of pasta (capellini is especially tricky), if needed. It shouldn’t be soupy, or even saucy.
  4. Stir in the parsley, if using. Finish with a swirl of olive oil and Pecorino. Serve immediately.