A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed what Greeks seemed to know all along — eating a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts, olive oil, vegetables, fresh fruit, legumes, fish, poultry and red wine has proven health benefits, especially for those at risk for heart disease. Contrary to the popular belief that a low-fat diet was best for cardiovascular health, the results of the new Mediterranean diet study were so clearly evident that the researchers ended the trial early.
This simple traditional Italian dish packs a lot of flavor with just a few ingredients — make sure to use the best possible extra virgin olive oil and quality pasta. Be sure not to overcook the pasta — it’s best al dente. The ingredient amounts in this recipe can be adjusted to suit your personal taste preferences — such as a little more garlic, less pepper flakes.
14-16 ounces spaghetti
6 garlic cloves, very finely minced
3 teaspoons chili pepper flakes
1/2 – 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (the fresher the better)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Cook pasta according to the directions on the package, until it is al dente. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
Drain pasta and place in a large, pre-warmed serving dish.
Add minced garlic, chili pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss together until pasta is evenly coated.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
YIELD: Serves 4 – 6
In 1997, Ridgely Everss DaVero extra-virgin olive oil, produced in northern California, won a blind tasting in Italy. This triumph was a result of a revival of the American olive oil industry that began in the 1980s. Producers started reviving old trees they found on their properties, imported new trees from Italy, and began to focus on producing olive oil that would be world class. Each year, more acreage is planted in olive orchards and more oil produced. The California Olive Oil Council, a trade organization started in 1992, developed a seal certification program to set standards for extra-virgin olive oil. If an oil passes certain laboratory tests and is deemed defect free and fruity by a panel that tastes the oil blind, the producer can affix a seal to the bottles stating that it is extra-virgin. This helps the shopper, who is confronted by numerous bottles of olive oil on store shelves, make a choice.