Sugar and spice and all things nice

I have a flu. Again. I work with children, so everything that goes around, gets to me. It’s a sunny day out, and I wanted to make up for not getting out there. My mum brought me skinny, little yellow courgettes from her plot. I had pasta. I had onions… I had chillies. I had sherry.

So this happened: Yellow courgette and tomato pasta with sherry and chilli


Here’s what you need:

splash of olive oil

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 small yellow courgette, thinly sliced

1 tomato, chopped without the seed bits

1 big clove of garlic, pressed with the skin on

some habanero chili, finely chopped (a little goes a long way… no, seriously, go easy on the chilli) – or use any kind of chilli you like and have around the house, the amount you use is entirely up to you

a bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped


black pepper

squeeze of lemon juice

sprinkling of sugar

splash of sherry vinegar

splash of amontillado sherry

some pitted kalamata olives, halved

some grated parmesan or pecorino or both

Put some olive oil in a pan, and heat up. Add the pressed garlic clove (Jamie Oliver told me to press it with the skin on – provided you have a robust press – and it makes a HUGE difference – more flavour, more juice).


Halve and slice your onion, and add to the pan. Chop your chosen bit of chilli and toss it in the pan as well. Fry and stir, until the onion looks happy. Cut your baby courgette into thin slices, chop up the tomato (leaving the seed bit out), and roughly chop your basil. First add the courgette in the pan, frying it a bit and adding salt and pepper to taste. When the courgette slices have a bit of colour on, add the tomato and basil. You could wait longer before putting in the basil, if you want it fresh and green for serving.


This is when I put some water in a big pan, with a pinch of salt, and get my spaghetti cooking.

Then starts the creative bit: I squeezed some lemon juice out of a plastic bottle, and decided to sprinkle some sugar on, to bring out the tomato and balance out the chilli. Then I saw my sherry vinegar bottle on the counter and splashed some of that in. Then I remembered I had some amontillado sherry left in a bottle in my bar cabinet. Well, sherry is fantastic for cooking. I like amontillado best, both for cooking and drinking. Just sweet enough, with a bit of depth. In went the sherry drags.

Now I was pretty happy with my pasta sauce. It just seemed to need a little something. I was gutted I had no cheese in the house. But luckily, I still had some pitted kalamata olives left. So I chopped them in half and tossed in the pan. Perfect.

Once the spaghetti was cooked, I drained it and poured it in the pan as well, adding some more olive oil. Stirred. Let it sit for a bit.


I would recommend adding the grated parmesan or pecorino, to take the edge off the chilli. Sadly, I had no cheese – so I got a great disinfecting for my sinuses, mouth and throat. Hope it works…

All in all, spicy and good. But get cheese.


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