Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main
¼ cup plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 ½ pounds spaghetti
Hot red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
Bring 8 quarts or water to a boil in a large pasta pot.
While the water is heating, combine ¼ cup of the oil and the garlic in a 14-inch sauté pan, and cook over medium-low heat until the garlic turns just light golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to sit.
Pour the remaining ¼ cup oil into a separate 12- to 14-inch sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are a dark golden brown (3 to 5 minutes - take your time). Remove from the heat and sprinkle generously with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Add the oregano and parsley, and mix thoroughly.
When the water comes to a boil, add two tablespoons salt. Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook it for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle ½ cup of the cooking water into the pan containing the garlic and oil.
Drain the cooked spaghetti into a colander and add it to the pan containing the oil and garlic. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until nicely coated. Then add half of the toasted breadcrumb mixture to the spaghetti and toss until well mixed. Pour the spaghetti into a warmed bowl and serve immediately, with the remaining toasted breadcrumb mixture in a bowl on the side.
This dish gets no cheese! Season it only with more black pepper and some red pepper flakes.