Sophie’s sort-of Sicilian spaghetti

At the moment I’m deeply involved in The Leopard, the famous Italian novel that charts the decline of a noble Silician family during the late 19th century. At a really basic level it’s a bit like a (less violent) version of The Godfather, or The Sopranos. Maybe all life is like that. Anyway, apart from the epic themes of struggle and change and death there are some great descriptions of feasts eaten and given. It’s one of those books where you know it’s all going to end in tears, but you’re compelled to keep reading. I highly recommend it.

Sicilian spaghetti
I made this on Friday night, having opened the pantry and fridge and thought: ‘I only went shopping yesterday, why is there nothing to eat?’ It’s a really good storecupboard sort of dinner and is child-friendly too, especially if your child has a thing for dried fruit, tuna and nuts. I watched Sophie Grigson make it on TV once, about 15 years ago, and I’ve been making it ever since even though I’ve long since lost the notes I made of whatever quantities she used. This is how I made it on Friday night and it was a huge success.

1 red onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 x 180g tin of good quality tuna in olive oil
two handfuls of raisins or currants
two handfuls of pine nuts, toasted (I use roughly chopped toasted almonds instead, or sunflower seeds if we are especially poor)
1 cup black olives, stoned
a generous amount of fresh parsley, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
enough spaghetti for three people – for us that’s about 250-300g)

Put the onion and red wine vinegar in a small bowl and leave to steep while you get on with organising everything else. Put the water on to boil for the pasta, and add everything except the spaghetti to the onion mixture. Toss together, add a slosh of olive oil and season to taste.
Cook the spaghetti until it is al dente and drain, then toss it through the sauce. Take a block of Parmesan to the table and let diners add it as they wish. Threaten any non-eaters with a horse’s head in their bed. Serves three.



  1. February 17, 2013 / 5:54 pm

    gorgeous stuff!… I love a nice book full of passion and food… the spaghetti looks lovely and packed with flavour… quite heavenly.

  2. February 17, 2013 / 10:59 pm

    This does look rather fabulous and a great combination of flavour and textures.

    I also love the way that you combined literature with food – perhaps someone could launch a literary food challenge? Just a thought!

  3. February 18, 2013 / 2:31 pm

    Thank for the book recommendation. I'll check it out. At the moment, I am re-reading Nigel Slater's Toast and Giles Coren's How To Eat Out, so I am crying and laughing at the same time.
    This pasta dish is just my kind of meal. Love it! I am embarrassed to admit, but 250 gr of spaghetti is my portion for one (by one I mean: Me). I have pasta addiction? no… (that's a yes).

  4. February 19, 2013 / 11:00 am

    That looks amazing, and the book sounds fab too. I've been reading a lot of my husband's fantasy books (Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin etc) and they have the most detailed descriptions of feasts and food – it's hard not to be inspired by them!

  5. February 20, 2013 / 6:58 pm

    Looks lovely. Sometimes nothing beats store cupboard favourite x

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