Midnight Pasta a Perfect Choice

As someone who tends to be a night owl by nature, I have used this Midnight Pasta recipe many times over the years. A simple pasta dish is always my first go-to when I’m worn out and don’t have the energy to cook.

midnight pasta
This is my midnight pasta dish topped with some cheese, coated with olive oil and garlic.

Regardless the reason for those late nights, here’s an easy midnight-perfect Italian recipe that is quick, simple, and fully satisfies!

In fact, my guess is you may have already already made this Midnight Pasta recipe too at some point in the past and never called it by this name!

What is Midnight Pasta?

Midnight pasta is a simple Italian dish that has earned it’s name due to the simplicity of the recipe. It’s a quick midnight dinner that is quick, tasty, and satisfying. All you need are three main ingredients: long pasta, garlic and olive oil.

midnight pasta recipe

Mightnight pasta is also known by another name, pasta con olio d’oliva e aglio, which means pasta with olive oil and garlic in Italian.

There can be different versions of this recipe. For example, I tend to add cheese on top, while my husband will add some red pepper flakes for extra heat.


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All you need are these three essential ingredients. I give specific quantities in the recipe card further down below.

Long pasta

My pasta of choice for this recipe is any type of thin long pasta. More specifically, angel hair pasta since it cooks much faster. Vermicelli or thin spaghetti can also work.

Olive oil

Use a good quality organic extra virgin olive oil.

Fresh garlic cloves

Fresh garlic is what we’re using. I roughly chop my garlic cloves, but some may prefer to slice them if you use a higher quantity than my suggested amount.

There are some optional ingredients such as salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and even cheese, but if you stray too far it’s not Midnight Pasta anymore. 🙂

How to Make Midnight Pasta

boil pasta

Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil and add a dash of salt. I don’t always use salt, but in this case since there are minimal ingredients, it will help add some intensity to the pasta.

heat the olive oil

While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat and add in the extra virgin olive oil.

Pro Tip: Only start cooking the garlic when you have 3 minutes left for the pasta to finish cooking

garlic and olive oil in pan

When the pasta is almost ready, add in the chopped cloves of garlic and lower the temperature to low. Stir the garlic so it is fully coated with the olive oil.

Cook the garlic for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. If the pasta isn’t ready, remove from the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn.

reserved pasta water
Reserve at least a 1/2 cup of water, even though my photo shows 1/4 cup.

Your pasta should be ready at this point. Reserve some of the pasta water by using a measuring cup and set aside.

transfer pasta to pan

Transfer the pasta directly to the skillet and stir so it’s coated with the garlic and olive oil. If the pasta is dry, add the reserved water 1/4 cup at a time.

mix pasta with olive oil and garlic pasta to pan

Once coated, the pasta is now ready to serve.

Other Ingredients You can Use

midnight pasta on plate

You can add other ingredients to your midnight pasta, but the goal is to not require any additional cooking or preparation.

If an extra ingredient needs to be cut, chopped, or washed, it’s not the same recipe.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Capers
  • Ground black pepper

Storage and Reheating Tips

If you end up with extra pasta, simply store it in the fridge in an air tight container. It will last up to 3 days.

To reheat the pasta use the microwave on a reheat setting. Use a pasta bowl so you can add in some water to prevent the pasta getting sticky and dry.

My preferred method for reheating pasta is to place it in a skillet with about 1/4 cup water. Use a fork to break up the pasta since it would have hardened in the fridge forming a clump.

Heat it over medium heat covered for approximately 5 minutes or until the pasta is warmed through.

Additional Side Dishes

If you have enough energy to make a side dish, I recommend the following.

simple italian salad

Grab some lettuce and chop it up in a simple Italian green salad.

antipasto recipe

If you’ve got the energy and not too tired, chop up some olives, artichokes, and other jarred treats for a delicious antipasto salad!

cherry tomato caprese salad

Grab some cherry tomatoes and slice them up and toss with some mozzarella balls and olive oil. Check out my recipe for an easy caprese cherry tomato salad!

Similar Midnight Pasta Recipes

Here are some additional recipes that are similar to a midnight pasta-style recipe. I’ve often made these on those late nights as well.

pasta with breadcrumbs

If you love pasta, try my pasta with breadcrumbs recipe. It’s so easy!

pasta with fresh tomatoes and garlic

Try some pasta with fresh tomatoes. It doesn’t take much longer than your midnight pasta!

pasta with asparagus and lemon

Here’s an impressive pasta recipe for pasta with lemon and asparagus that can be made super quick and no one will believe how easy it is to make!

midnight pasta

Midnight Pasta

Low on energy? This simple midnight pasta recipe also known as pasta con olio d'oliva e aglio (pasta with olive oil and garlic), will do the trick!
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves chopped
  • dash of salt for pasta water
  • 1/2 lb long pasta angel hair, thin spaghetti, etc.
  • Romano cheese optional
  • salt and pepper optional, see notes for more suggestions


  • Bring salted pasta water to a boil and add pasta. Stir to prevent sticking.
  • Meanwhile chop the garlic cloves into small pieces.
  • When pasta is about 3 minutes from being done, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic and stir to coat the garlic. Lower heat to low and let simmer for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Don't let it burn.
  • Reserve some pasta water and set aside.
  • Transfer the pasta directly from the water to the pan and stir/toss to coat the pasta with the garlic and olive oil. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the pasta is dry.
  • Serve and enjoy.


  1. Although this recipe only requires garlic and olive oil, I often top it off with some grated Romano cheese. 
  2. To make this recipe even quicker, use a thin long pasta such as angel hair or vermicelli. I used spaghetti in my recipe above simply because that’s what I had on hand. When I’m in a rush I always go for the thinnest pasta I have on hand.
  3. I don’t always add salt to my pasta water (I know, I know….) but in this case I do to help intensify the flavor. 
  4. Other suggestions for your midnight pasta: 
    • red pepper flakes
    • ground pepper
    • chopped arugula
  5. Make sure to only start the garlic when your pasta is almost ready because it will burn if you cook it too long in the oil while waiting for the pasta.

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Midnight Pasta a Perfect Choice

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