Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pasta with Lemon, Green Herbs & Toasted Crumbs {Random Recipes #14}

I absolutely love Dom's Random Recipes challenge that he holds every month. It really is a great way to cook a new recipe from one of your books that is tucked away on your bookshelves. But let's be honest it is also a challenge, which means that every month when the new theme is announced amongst the excitement there is also a little fear! After all when you have a collection of cook books like I have you literally could get anything to cook! Rather scarily and very unusual for me, so far I have been incredibly lucky.....almost too lucky so I know that any time now I am going to get the recipe of all recipes...you know, one of those recipes that you look at and just think 'impossible' or 'what even is that?'!!.....It's definitely going to happen, it's just a question of when. This month however Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog had the honour of choosing the theme and she chose her lucky number 17 as the book we had to use. Now the rules of this challenge were to go to your shelf and count along til you got to book number 17 so that I did and I got Real Cooking by Nigel Slater! First sigh of relief as I love Nigel Slater but had yet to cook from this book. Now time to pick the recipe so I closed my eyes and randomly opened the book to page 145 and was happy to discover that I was cooking Pasta with Lemon, Green Herbs and Toasted Crumbs….phew! Another fluke for me!

I loved this recipe as in true Nigel style it was uncomplicated, stress-free and the perfect mid-week meal. On top of all of that it was also completely delicious. It took as long to cook as the time the pasta took to boil so was super easy. I love Nigel's style of cooking and his books and recipes are always such a pleasure to read with his relaxed prose and easy-breezy, 'don't stress, it's only food, it's enjoyable' attitude. The recipe wasn't a challenge as it was so straightforward but it was perfect as we had a lot going on, and an overly complicated time consuming recipe wouldn't have worked this month! So thank you once again Dom and thank you also Choclette for being extra nice – I guess 17 is a pretty lucky number for me as well! Only thing is with another Random Recipes success my odds for a complicated recipe are on the up so who knows what next month will bring!

Nigel Slater's Pasta with Lemon, Green Herbs and Toasted Crumbs

I adapted the recipe slightly and used spring (green) onions instead of a small shallot (it's what I had in the house) and I couldn't resist adding some red chilli flakes for a hint of heat. I also used less lemon juice and olive oil than suggested but that was due to using less pasta – adjust accordingly depending on how much pasta you are cooking.

{Serves 2}

200-300g pasta of your choice*
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 handfuls of fresh white breadcrumbs (I used some day old Cheese & Chive Bread which was delicious!)
2 large handfuls of chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used parsley and basil)
1 handful of fresh rocket (arugula) leaves, chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped or 1 small shallot, finely chopped
½ tsp red chilli flakes or ½ fresh red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
small knob of butter, softened
Juice of ½ – 1 lemon (see above) and a little zest
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan then once hot add the breadcrumbs and crushed garlic. Reduce the heat to low and let everything gently sizzle away being careful not to let the garlic brown at all. Gently cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are deliciously crispy and golden and spiked with the garlic. Once ready remove from the heat and set aside.

Add the chopped herbs of your choice and the rocket to a bowl. You can chop them as finely as you like but I love how Nigel states to “chop the herbs and rocket finely, but not so much that they resemble tea leaves”! Add 2-4tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the herbs (the recipe calls for 4tbsp, I used 2tbsp and it was plenty) along with a good pinch of salt and pepper, the chopped spring onions or shallot, chilli (if using) butter, lemon juice (I would suggest starting with half then adding more as needed) and the zest.

Once the pasta is ready, drain it reserving a tablespoon or two of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the herb and oil mixture along with the a little of the reserved water then toss well so the pasta is evenly coated with the herbs, oil and lemon. Finish by scattering over the garlicky breadcrumbs and eat at once!

*The original recipe calls for 300g of pasta but I find 200g to be more than enough so it just depends on how hungry you are! I used whole wheat spaghetti which worked really well but again you can use whatever you like or happen to have in the cupboard.

{Sorry about the photographs and the fact that they are out of focus...for some reason when I shrink them they are going slightly blurry and I can't seem to fix it!}


  1. This looks amazing!! Pasta is normally a heavy meal but with the addition of the lemon and herbs I am sure it would seem extremely light and refreshing!

    1. Thanks! It is so light and fresh tasting, I love it. And the whole wheat spaghetti is also great with it as you don't eat as much but feel completely full for longer! Result!

  2. Looks like lady luck was smiling down on you for this challenge - what a delicious and easy-looking recipe! It's going straight on my must-make list.
    This reminds me that I've been neglecting my Nigel Slater books... I think it's time to give them a re-read to find some inspiration. You just can't go wrong with one of his recipes!

    1. She certainly was and I really recommend it - you won't be disappointed!

  3. This pasta looks really delicious. I love those crumbs added to it. Thanks very much for sharing.

  4. Mmmm, this looks like a winner :) Love the herbs, this must be so flavorful!

  5. don't you just LOVE Nigel Slater? He's such a wonderful and user-friendly cook... this is a marvellous dish and it looks stunning... your photography is incredible, as always, I need some tips on lighting and composition from you!... thanks so much for the kind words and the entry, again... always so nice to have you on board x

    1. Love, love, love! So good and always has been. You are far too kind about my photography - I'm still learning big time and wasn't that happy with these ones as I was so rushed taking them so I really appreciate your comment!! Also definitely don't ask me about composition as every time I submit a photo to Taste Spotting it's always rejected for composition!!! Always the way huh?! x

  6. Thanks everyone - as usual it was great to be a part of such a fantastic challenge and you can't go wrong with Nigel Slater! On top of that it's always fantastic to discover a new, simple recipe that I know I'll make again and again!

  7. That's interesting, I had that book and gave it away a long time ago, maybe I shouldn't have! That looks really tasty.

  8. sounds like a pretty good lunch recipe:) I've got the toasted crumbs looking for a use and a few spare lemons...wish my herbs looked a bit less as like 'cut me now and I'll hibernate for summer'

  9. The random recipe challenge sounds like such a great idea! You definitely picked a good one - this pasta sounds so light and refreshing =)


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