Pici all'Aglione
2 Tbsp
olive oil
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (one per person)
1 tsp
dried chili flakes (or 1 whole fresh chili w/ seeds)
28 oz
whole peeled tomatoes
granulated sugar
salt & pepper
to taste
4-6 leaves
fresh basil (optional)

Aglione, which translates to “big garlic” in Italian, is a Tuscan classic. It’s simple, it’s fresh, and it keeps the vampires at bay. In Tuscany it’s almost always paired with pici, the fattest, most delicious hand rolled pasta you’ve ever laid your teeth into. The best pici is handmade, with little irregularities from the rolling fingers of many tiny grandmas, but it’s becoming easier to find packaged in the US. If you can’t find it, and don’t feel like making it, this sauce will stick beautifully to any cut of pasta. We like buccatini or, if you really wanna buck tradition, a short cut with grip like rigatoni.

This recipe is as simple and crowd pleasing as it seems, however, only if your crowd is full of garlic lovers. Sure, you can mess around and include fewer cloves, but honestly, your friends aren’t your friends if they don’t love garlic. Just embrace it and avoid making out with anyone for a few hours.


  1. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil, add salt
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet or sauce pot, heat oil until shimmering.
  3. Add garlic cloves and chili flakes (or chopped fresh chili). Stir frequently until fragrant and just before garlic browns, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes w/ their juices, a pinch of salt and a few cracks of fresh pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  5. Simmer sauce stirring occasionally, until reduced to a sauce (20-30 minutes).
  6. Add pici or other pasta to the water, cook for 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.
  7. Once sauce is reduced, add a pinch of sugar, stir, and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Toss the pasta with the sauce for 1-2 minutes until al dente and coated with the sauce. Add reserved pasta water if necessary to bind the sauce and make it glossy
  9. Serve from the skillet and top with chopped basil leaves if desired.


  1. Because we’re insane, we like to grate another clove of garlic with a microplane between steps 3 and 4.
  2. You can always add in more chili if you like the heat.
  3. This sauce is not traditionally served with cheese, but you do you. Parm does no wrong.
  4. Once you get the garlic/spice portions set to your liking, triple it and freeze in pint containers for up to 6 months.
  5. Don’t forget the scarpetta, aka the act of cleaning your dish with something carb-ful.