killer spaghetti (spaghetti all’assassina)

This spaghetti recipe from Puglia looks simple from the ingredients, but it’s all about the technique. The trick is the spaghetti has to crisp up and scorch a bit because this is what gives it its unique flavour and texture. It’s cooked in a similar way to a risotto with the liquid added bit by bit till the pasta is cooked. It’s one of those recipes you wonder how you missed it, if you haven’t already tried it. The pasta goes red from the tomato and absorbs all the flavours from the chilli and garlic and it’s utterly delicious.

Serves 2

You will need

a very large iron non stick frying pan that the dry spaghetti will fit flat into

a spatula

1 saucepan

a ladle

a serving fork


200g of spaghetti (cheap spaghetti works better)

400g tin of tomatoes (I purée the tomatoes with my stick blender)

3 garlic cloves very finely sliced

a big pinch of chilli flakes

a glug of olive oil


Firstly get the pot and pan ready. In one pan cook the tomato sauce gently till it has reduced for about ten minutes. In the other pan, fill the empty can up with water and add the reduced tomato sauce, add some salt and keep warm.

Heat the frying pan and add the olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a few seconds. They should start to sizzle. Pour in a ladle of the tomato and water mixture then add the spaghetti, laid flat. Fry till all the liquid is gone and some of the pasta is starting to go brown underneath. Flip the pasta over with a spatula and add another ladle of the tomato mixture, keep repeating this process until the spaghetti is al dente and a bit scorched. This takes about 25 minutes. Check the seasoning, it might need more salt.

Grab the ladle and the serving fork and stick the fork into the spaghetti and twist and lift into the ladle, spin the fork so the pasta is in a whorl and place on plates. You can add parmesan and chopped parsley or basil if you fancy, I like it either way with a salad.

Recipe update… if like me you love leftovers, it’s delicious the next day cold from the fridge, with a liberal grating of parmesan !

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