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Comfort Food Friday: Linguine with Basil, Red Pepper Flakes, and Garlic

A Quick, Delicious Warm-Weather Meal

Overhead view of linguine with basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic

Rachael White

As summer finds its stride, I find myself craving dishes that highlight fresh ingredients growing in my garden. There is something so fulfilling about walking out in the yard to retrieve something you grew. Right now, we have lots of fresh basil begging to be mixed into cocktails, tossed with stir-fry, and blended into pesto. One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh basil, or any fresh herb from my garden, is to add it to a simple bowl of pasta with garlic, olive oil, butter, and red pepper flakes.

The beauty of this dish is that you can enjoy one of the greatest comfort foods of all time—pasta—with a light, no-cook sauce. It comes together in about 10 to 15 minutes (as long as it takes to boil water and cook your pasta), which is wonderful for days when it is too warm to spend an hour in a hot kitchen.

I like to add a little northern Italian twist by tossing some butter in with the pasta when it's finished. The combination of olive oil and butter is something I fell in love with while traveling in Italy with my husband and have incorporated into a lot of my cooking. The fruity flavor of olive oil with sweet, creamy butter is flavorful and comforting without being overly heavy, making this a perfect warm-weather meal.

While the water for the pasta boils, combine the olive oil with chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. As the sauce sits for the 10 minutes or so that it takes to cook the pasta, the flavors meld and create a beautiful sauce with almost no effort.

The finishing touch and star of the dish, the basil, is added at the very end to preserve its fresh flavor. I like to leave small and medium leaves whole because it looks beautiful and keeps from bruising the leaves, which can happen easily when cutting basil. If you have other fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, or even dill, feel free to use those along with or in place of the basil. There is no wrong combination.

I like to eat this for lunch, curled up outside on the grass.

Linguine with basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic

Rachael White


Linguine with Basil, Red Pepper Flakes, and Garlic

(Serves 4)


  • 1 pound linguine, spaghetti, or fettuccine
  • 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on how much spice you prefer)
  • Coarse salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • Grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Linguine with basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic

Rachael White


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt and add the pasta. Cook to al dente according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside. (The sauce should sit for at least 10 minutes but can be prepared a couple hours ahead of time as well.)

Sauce for pouring over linguine with basil, red pepper flakes, and garlic

Rachael White

When the pasta is done, DO NOT drain it. Use tongs to transfer it to a large bowl or serving platter. Add the butter and toss until completely melted. Drizzle the olive oil sauce over the pasta and toss to coat. Top the pasta with the basil leaves and parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

What are your favorite herbs to use/grow? Let us know in the comments—we love hearing from you!

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