Dec 12

Seafood linguine with chilli and garlic (budget version)

This month we embarked on a pre-Christmas food budget.

In principle this simply meant a few weeks of very limited food shopping so we could use up the existing contents of our fridge, cupboards and freezer. All was going well until I found a recipe for chicken tostadas which my husband vetoed in light of our current project. He suggested a mystery soup from the freezer and I pursed my lips. He offered to make an experimental chestnut burger with a tin of last year’s chestnut puree. So I had a tantrum and stuffed half a bar of toblerone in my mouth then mumbled inarticulately through the chocolate ’well that’s me had dinner’ and stormed off. All very mature.

The upside of this furore is that the extremely tolerant Mr Gannet set aside the chestnut puree and made one of my favourite store cupboard dishes – pasta with olive oil, chilli and garlic. Now, there is only one additional ingredient that can transform this special dish into absolute perfection. Seafood. Unfortunately this is not an ingredient that is normally accepted within the food budget guidelines so, when I tasted a distinct seafood flavour permeating through the pasta, I thought it was the ravings of a protein deprived brain.

The secret ingredient, which may well be lurking unused at the back of your cupboard and can save you a trip to the fishmonger is (drum roll please…) anchovy paste. Yes, those fermented fish carcasses have come good again. It turns out you can still enjoy linguine ai frutti de mare even if you are at home running down your larder instead of floating around the Amalfi coast on a big yacht.

I have asked my husband to divulge the secrets of his dish and so here is a little taste of Italy on a budget.

Recipe: Store cupboard seafood linguine

Enough for two people

  • 250g Linguine
  • 2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a big glug of olive oil
  • 1 – 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1tbsp capers
  • a little freshly grated parmesan (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper

Place the linguine in a large pan of salted boiling water and cook as directed on the packet (normally about 12 minutes for dried linguine).

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chillies and garlic. Cook on a gentle heat for a few minutes (do not let the garlic brown or it will taste bitter). Take the pan off the heat and stir in the anchovy paste. Set aside until the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain well. Add the garlic and chilli mixture, and the capers and toss well. Add a little more olive oil if necessary and season to taste.

Transfer to bowls and grate a little parmesan on top if you like.


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