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Superfresh and zingy

So it seems like we are on a bit of a pasta kick of late; perhaps it’s owing to the fact that our oven broke a few days ago, and we haven’t got around to fixing it yet. Or perhaps it’s simply the fact that pasta is quick, easy, and always, when cooked well, delicious. What I love about this dish is that it’s quick to make, it doesn’t involve many ingredients at all (nor precise amounts, it’s definitely an “add to taste” dish, so feel free to play around with it), but it always satisfies and puts a smile on your face, because of the fresh flavours that really hum when they are all in there together. Use ingredients that are as fresh as possible to really amp up the flavour. It always goes down a treat in our house, tonight being no exception.

Superfresh zingy spaghetti

What you’ll need:

Some spaghetti or spaghettini; olive oil;  2-4 cloves of garlic (depending how much you like garlic); 1 fresh red chilli (or less if you aren’t into the heat; you can also use a few chilli flakes if you can’t get your hands on fresh ones); 1 lemon; cherry tomatoes or other small tomatoes with lots of flavour; some rocket (or rucola as they call it here in der Nederland); grano padano or parmesan; salt and pepper.

What to do:

Start by chopping your garlic and chilli finely. Remember to take care handling the chilli, or else it won’t be happy times in the kitchen!

Get the water ready for the pasta by bringing a medium pot of water to the boil.

Put a large frying pan or wok onto medium heat. Add 4-6 generous glugs of olive oil. The oil will essentially coat all the pasta later on, and will carry the flavours of the other ingredients, so don’t skimp on it. Once the oil has heated, add your chopped garlic and chilli, and turn the heat down low; let this simmer a while. Wash your lemon and zest the skin of the lemon into the pan so it joins the chilli and garlic in the oil. Turn the heat off if the garlic and chilli are looking cooked, (you don’t want them to burn!) otherwise leave it on a really low heat. The idea is that these flavours will infuse together into the oil.

By this time your water should be ready for you to add your pasta to it, so get that on to cook, for around 8-10 minutes (check the instructions on the packet) until al-dente.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the oil mix in the pan. Then, chop up your tomatoes – if you are using cherry tomatoes, chop them in half horizontally accross the middle; if you are using slightly bigger ones, you might like to cut them into quarters. Add to the pan, and if you had turned the heat off, turn it on again, just keeping it fairly low. You don’t want to cook the tomatoes completely, just warm them a little bit.

Grab your rocket and chop it roughly so it’s shredded a bit. Add it to the pan, make sure the heat is off – it will just begin to wilt. Drain your pasta, and then leave it to stand for a minute while you grate the cheese finely into the pan, over the top of the rocket. Add the pasta to the pan with all the other ingredients in it, and carefully mix together. The aim here is to try to get all the pasta as coated as possible with the oil, cheese and rocket. I generally use a wooden spoon or fish slice to do this; it can be a bit tricky if your pan isn’t so big, but just go slowly and perservere and it will all come together.

Serve in bowls or on plates and with a side of crisp green salad if you like. I think it is a really happy looking meal, with the combination of bright colours. Hopefully you’ll find it to be the same. Enjoy!

P.s. If you have the restraint not to go back for seconds and have any left over, it’s great cold for lunch the next day too.


Photos taken tonight by CIA pre and post cooking, pre-enjoying.

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