Nigella’s spaghettini with lemon & garlic breadcrumbs – simple to make but tastes really good


I had an attempt at a vegetarian dinner the other week.  It didn’t go down that well with the family but I really enjoyed this pasta.  It’s a recipe from Nigella’s Italian cookbook – Nigellissima – and it’s really really simple and can be whipped up in no time at all.  Definitely one to keep at the back of your mind when you’ve had a tough day at work and you want some comforting carbs to curl up with on the couch.

The recipe below is for 2 but as I had a 500 g packet of spaghettini and we like to reserve extras for lunches or freezer emergency meals, I cooked up the whole lot, increasing the quantities of the other ingredients accordingly.

Part of me missed my protein so when I make this again in the future, I’ll probably mix in an egg per person or pan fry some chicken, beef, or fish to accompany it!

Ingredients (serves 2)
200 g spaghettini
salt for pasta water, plus 1 tsp sea salt flakes or 1/2 tsp pouring salt, or to taste
1 x 15 mL tbsp regular olive oil
zest & juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
1/2 cup (approx 50 g) breadcrumbs
2 x 15 mL tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
small clove garlic, peeled
pepper, to taste
small bunch parsley (approx 20 g), 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. nigella's spaghettini with lemon & garlic breadcrumbs 1280-14

nigella's spaghettini with lemon & garlic breadcrumbs 1280-16

nigella's spaghettini with lemon & garlic breadcrumbs 1280-15

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