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?’
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Important step: before draining the pasta, remove a cupful of the starchy water.
- 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.
- Mix the chopped parsley into the toasted breadcrumbs and add most of the breadcrumb-parsley mix to the pasta, tossing well.
- Divide between 2 warmed bowls and sprinkle the remaining lemony, parsley-flecked breadcrumbs over each.