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Spaghetti with 12 Cloves of Garlic

Love pantry meals? Try this Simple Garlic Spaghetti, made with 12 whole cloves! While this sounds like a lot, we cook them in stages to ensure a pleasant (not biting) flavor. It’s the perfect healthy weeknight dish!

overhead shot of three plates of garlic spaghetti with delicate squash

I am very excited to share this recipe with you all! It’s the perfect “pantry pasta” that can truly be made with ingredients you likely have on hand. It is very inexpensive to create and very comforting. The not-so-secret method to the best garlic flavor involves cooking only a portion of the garlic, while leaving some raw. I learned this technique from America’s Test Kitchen

Why do you need 12 cloves in this recipe?

This answer is simple – to include a full spectrum of garlic flavor! The key technique for this pasta is that we are only sauteing ⅔ of the garlic alloted for (so 8 cloves). The remaining 4 cloves will stay raw, added to the sauce just before coating the pasta. Since the majority of the garlic will be cooked at a low heat for 10 minutes, most of its pungent/sharp notes will have softened. This ensures the final product is not an overpowering allium mess. 

How can you make garlic pasta with garlic powder?

Garlic powder and fresh garlic have very different flavor profiles, so it’s not recommended to substitute one for the other in most pasta recipes. Fresh garlic is the primary base of flavor here. If you do not have access to it currently, this recipe looks promising.

5 Tips for Mincing Garlic 

  1. Use a large and sharp knife to smash down each clove, which will allow the skin to loosen. You can then easily slide the skin off prior to any slicing.
  2. To mince, work one clove at a time until you become more familiar with the knife motion. Watch the fingertips of your non-knife hand (bending them into a “claw” shape can help avoid any accidental cuts). 
  3. Slice each peeled piece of garlic down the middle, removing any green sprouts as necessary (these are harmless but can have a sharp taste). Once halved, lay each piece flat and finely chop across into as small of pieces as possible. The more the garlic is agitated, the more flavor will be released. 
  4. Once you have all garlic chopped, add a pinch of salt and mash with the back of the knife once more (salt will help further soften the garlic and create almost a “paste” prior to sauteing). 
  5. And as always, feel free to just use a garlic press if you have one! 
close up of a bowl of garlic spaghetti on a pink tile table

Ingredients Needed for Garlic Spaghetti 

  • 1 lb spaghetti, or other long thin pasta shape (feel free to sub a shorter pasta for a different vibe, still tasty)
  • Kosher salt, used throughout
  • Scant ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 TBS 
  • 12 cloves of garlic, fresh and in their skins
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • Juice of ½ large lemon (a few TBS)
  • Cashew parm, to serve

Substitution Ingredient Options for this Recipe

  • If you do not have spaghetti, feel free to use any shape of pasta! I prefer longer styles in this dish (such as fettuccine), but it really is delicious with whatever you have on hand. 
  • Regular parmesan can be used in place of cashew parmesan if you are not vegan. 
  • Fresh basil can be used in place of fresh parsley. 

How To Make Spaghetti with 12 Cloves of Garlic 

1. Cover a medium sized pot of water and bring to a boil on the stovetop, adding about 1 TBS salt to season the water. 

2. While pasta water is boiling, prepare garlic. Use the back of a large knife to smash down each clove, which will allow the skin to loosen. Slide the skin off and carefully mince each clove into fine pieces. If you have a garlic press, this is the perfect time to use it as it can really speed up the process! Once you have a large pile of all chopped cloves, add a pinch of salt and mash once more (salt will help further soften the garlic and create almost a “paste” prior to cooking). As best you can, divide the minced pile in thirds. 

3. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a cast iron skillet over low and add ⅔  of the garlic (reserve the rest for now). Cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring at consistent intervals to ensure it does not burn. This slow cooking will mellow garlic’s sometimes harsh flavor.  

4. Meanwhile, add pasta to a boiling pot of water and cook according to package directions. Before draining, reserve  ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Pour pasta back into the pot. 

5. Once garlic is lightly browned and fragrant, remove cast iron skillet from heat and stir in the remaining 2 TBS olive oil, remaining raw garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, and lemon juice. Pour this mixture on top of cooked pasta. Stir to coat and add reserved pasta water to create more of a “sauce” as needed. Serve while hot, sprinkling with cashew parmesan. 

As you may see in these photos, I added some roasted vegetables to the top of the spaghetti just because I had a few to use up. Feel free to do the same once your pasta is made! To roast delicata squash, slice in half and scrape out seeds and stringy flesh. Slice into thin half moon shapes and add to a lined baking sheet with a few TBS olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and a bit of pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, until soft. 

fork with a twirl of vegan garlic spaghetti resting on a plate

I accidentally drained all of my pasta water. What do I do?

Substitute an equal amount of hot water in its place. I have done this a number of times and find that while the additional starch in pasta water is nominally helpful, it does not make a huge difference in the end result. 

I understand that there are a few no-so-simple measurements included above. As someone who tends to breeze through recipes without reading fine print, I hope the bolded sections make these items more clear!

Other Healthy Recipes for Garlic Lovers

Crispy Orzo with Peas and Garlic Butter

Garlic Stuffed Rolls

Cheesy Herbed Garlic Star Bread

Simplest Garlic Knots

And, if you love pasta for a weeknight dinner (who doesn’t?) check out the below for more simple meal inspiration!

More Vegan Pasta Recipes to Try 

French Onion Pasta Bake

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes

Pink Sauce Pasta with Rosé

Sage Brown Butter Sauce with Butternut Ravioli

Print
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fork with a twirl of vegan garlic spaghetti resting on a plate

Spaghetti with 12 Cloves of Garlic


  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Love pantry meals? Try this Simple Garlic Spaghetti, made with 12 whole cloves! While this sounds like a lot, we cook them in stages to ensure a pleasant (not biting) flavor. It’s the perfect healthy weeknight dish!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb spaghetti, or other long thin pasta shape
  • Kosher salt, used throughout
  • Scant ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 TBS
  • 12 cloves of garlic, fresh and in their skins
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • Juice of ½ large lemon (a few TBS)
  • Cashew parm, to serve, optional
  • Roasted vegetables to serve, optional (see note)

Instructions

  1. Cover a medium sized pot of water and bring to a boil on the stovetop, adding about 1 TBS salt to season the water.
  2. While pasta water is boiling, prepare garlic. Use the back of a large knife to smash down each clove, which will allow the skin to loosen. Slide the skin off and carefully mince each clove into fine pieces. If you have a garlic press, this is the perfect time to use it as it can really speed up the process! Once you have a large pile of all chopped cloves, add a pinch of salt and mash once more (salt will help further soften the garlic and create almost a “paste” prior to cooking). As best you can, divide the minced pile in thirds.
  3. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a cast iron skillet over low and add ⅔  of the garlic (reserve the rest for now). Cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring at consistent intervals to ensure it does not burn. This slow cooking will mellow garlic’s sometimes harsh flavor.
  4. Meanwhile, add pasta to a boiling pot of water and cook according to package directions. Before draining, reserve  ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Pour pasta back into the pot.
  5. Once garlic is lightly browned and fragrant, remove cast iron skillet from heat and stir in the remaining 2 TBS olive oil, remaining raw garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, and lemon juice. Pour this mixture on top of cooked pasta. Stir to coat and add reserved pasta water to create more of a “sauce” as needed. Serve while hot, sprinkling with cashew parmesan.

Notes

As you may see in these photos, I added some roasted vegetables to the top of the spaghetti just because I had a few to use up. Feel free to do the same once your pasta is made! To roast Delicata squash, slice in half and scrape out seeds and stringy flesh. Slice into thin half moon shapes and add to a lined baking sheet with a few TBS olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and a bit of pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, until soft.

I also added roasted beets, micro greens, and pomegranate arils because apparently I put those on everything these days. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: One fourth of recipe
  • Calories: 356.6 grams
  • Sugar: 1.1 grams
  • Sodium: 594.8 milligrams
  • Fat: 14.9 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 2.1 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12.8 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 46.8 grams
  • Fiber: 2.9 grams
  • Protein: 8.8 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Keywords: pasta, garlic, spaghetti

Portrait of Emily, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Hi, I'm Emily! Garlic Head is a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets. My recipes focus on entertaining-style cuisine, perfect for celebrating all of life's little moments! Meet me here.

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Comments

  1. Sue0523 says

    How have I never thought to keep some of the garlic raw?? Revelatory suggestion I will definitely try. Thanks!

  2. Ruthie says

    This was so good tonite! The weather got chilly again, and I was in the mood for a good garlicky pasta! This recipe checked all of the boxes, and easy too! Thanks Garlic Head!

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