Julia Busuttil Nishimura's pantry spaghetti

Pantry spaghetti with 'poor man's cheese' (crispy breadcrumbs).
Pantry spaghetti with 'poor man's cheese' (crispy breadcrumbs). Photo: William Meppem

This is one of my favourite meals to make in a hurry or when the fridge is bare. It takes only moments to come together and is so robust, comforting and full of flavour. The lemon brightens up the dish wonderfully and while a grating of parmesan would be more than fine here, I prefer a scattering of crunchy, salty breadcrumbs, known as formaggi dei poveri (poor man's cheese), instead.

Ingredients

400g spaghetti

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 anchovy fillets

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

zest and juice of a ½ lemon

large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

sea salt and black pepper

Crunchy breadcrumbs

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp dry breadcrumbs

sea salt

Cost breakdown

Spaghetti $1.92

Garlic $1.88

Anchovy fillets $0.52

Chilli flakes $0.22

Lemons $0.41

Parsley $1.23

Breadcrumbs $1.83

Total​ $8.01

Method

1. For the breadcrumbs, heat the olive oil in a small frypan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden and crunchy. Season with sea salt and set aside.

2. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of generously salted boiling water. A few minutes before the pasta is ready, warm the olive oil, garlic, anchovies and chilli together in a large pan over a low-medium heat and cook until the garlic is soft but not coloured. You don't want to cook it too high as the garlic will easily burn and the olive oil is best kept on a lower heat. When the pasta is ready, scoop out and set aside half a cup of the pasta water and drain the spaghetti.

3. Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss to coat. If it is looking a little dry, add a little of the pasta water; you may not need all of it. Stir through the lemon juice, zest and parsley, and season to taste. Serve onto plates and scatter with the breadcrumbs and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Also try: Julia Busuttil Nishimura's apple and ricotta frittelle

The $15 challenge: Click here for more budget- and family-friendly recipes