Spaghettini with lemon & garlic breadcrumbs

Spaghettini with lemon and breadcrumbs

In need of a quick and easy dinner and having minimal ingredients to hand due to a lack of supermarket shopping for quite some time, Nigella Lawson came to the rescue with her spaghettini with lemon & garlic breadcrumbs dish from Italian book Nigelissima. It’s quick, easy and extremely cheap to make, yet still utterly delicious. It’s amazing what you can do with a few simple ingredients – spaghetti – not spaghettini (as that’s what I had in the cupboard), lemon, garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley and dried chilli flakes. Pretty much the last things left in my fridge and store cupboard. A handy, but not all that original, tip for breadcrumbs – being a bit frugal and attempting to make sure I use every last morsel of the weekly shop – whenever I have any leftover bread that’s past its best, I whizz it up in the food processor and make breadcrumbs, which I pop in the freezer and take out whenever I need them. Perfect for making your own goujons or adding to burger mixes or making a quick and easy pasta dish which won’t break the bank. While the husband read the toddler a bedtime story, I knocked up Nigella’s pasta and it was ready to eat in no time.

The verdict from the cook: ‘A lovely, zesty pasta dish that you can make in no time. What’s not to like?’

Serves 2


  • 200g spaghettini
  • salt for pasta water, plus 1 tsp sea salt flakes or 1/2 tsp pouring salt, or to taste
  • 1 x 15ml tbsp regular olive oil
  • zest & juice of 1 un-waxed lemon
  • 1/2 cup (approx 50 g) breadcrumbs
  • 2 x 15ml tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • small clove garlic, peeled
  • pepper, to taste
  • small bunch parsley (approx 20g), chopped


  1. Bring the water to boil for your pasta, salting generously when it starts bubbling. Add the spaghettini, stir with a pasta fork or your equivalent and let the pasta cook according to packet instructions, tasting a couple of minutes before it’s meant to be ready.
  2. Warm the 1 tablespoon regular olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the lemon zest; it will sizzle fragrantly. Now add the breadcrumbs and toast by stirring them in the warm pan until they turn a deep gold. Remove immediately to a cold dish.
  3. Important step: before draining the pasta, remove a cupful of the starchy water.
  4. Tip the drained pasta back into its own cooking pan, then add the extra-virgin olive oil and half the lemon juice and toss to combine in the hot pan until a lot of the liquid is absorbed. Add the dried chilli flakes and salt (to taste) & grate in (or mince & add) the garlic, and toss again, adding some pasta-cooking liquid to help it amalgamate into a sparse but gleaming sauce. Season to taste and to check whether you want to add the remaining lemon juice.
  5. Mix the chopped parsley into the toasted breadcrumbs and add most of the breadcrumb-parsley mix to the pasta, tossing well.
  6. Divide between 2 warmed bowls and sprinkle the remaining lemony, parsley-flecked breadcrumbs over each.

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