Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for store-cupboard spaghetti | Pasta

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Not all store cupboards are equal. Mine is a higgledy-piggledy ode to disorganisation, which I have talked myself into thinking is useful for creativity. Perhaps, one day, I’ll see the soy sauce next to the fruit pastilles and it might inspire a new recipe. This dish, however, was inspired by the more ordered store cupboard of Giuseppina, the host nonna at a farm I stayed on in Sicily this summer. She dried her own grapes and tomatoes, brined her own capers and, using them, cooked us the most phenomenal food, including a pasta dish that this recipe is in memory of.

Store-cupboard spaghetti

If you’ve not used nutritional yeast, or nooch, before, I’d recommend dipping your spoon in. The flakes have an intensely cheesy flavour and though it does not, in my opinion, substitute for cheese, it does hit the breadcrumbs (which finish this spaghetti) over the head with a good amount of umami.

Prep 5 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 2

Extra-virgin olive oil
45g brined capers
, drained
40g sun-dried tomato paste
30g pine nuts

20g raisins

½ tsp red chilli flakes
Fine sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
, or to taste
40g dried breadcrumbs
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
200g spaghetti

First make the sauce. Put four tablespoons of oil in a blender, add the capers, sun-dried tomato paste, pine nuts, raisins, chilli flakes and half a teaspoon of salt. Blend to a chunky sauce, then taste: it should be salty, sweet and sour. If you need to, add up to a teaspoon of vinegar to balance things out.

Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil, and add a teaspoon of salt for every litre of water.

In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan on a medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the breadcrumbs and fry, stirring, until the they are an autumn-leaf brown. Take off the heat, stir in the nutritional yeast, then transfer to a small bowl.

Once the water pot is boiling, cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions and, when it’s nearly done, carefully lower a mug into the cooking water and take some of it out. Drain the spaghetti well, then return it to the empty pan and add the blended sauce and three tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Mix well to loosen up the pasta, adding another tablespoon of the cooking water, if need be, then taste a strand and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Distribute the spaghetti between two plates and sprinkle each portion with a tablespoon of the breadcrumb mix. Serve with the remaining breadcrumbs on the side, so you can help yourselves.

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