Toasted spaghetti with red onions, almonds and raisins

Toasted spaghetti with red onions, almonds and raisins

By
From
The Sunday Night Book
Serves
4
Photographer
Patricia Niven

Toasting pasta gives it a wonderfully nutty flavour. The trickiest part of this recipe is herding the toasted spaghetti into the boiling water. Because it’s slippery, tongs don’t work, so it’s just a case of gentle guidance and persistence – experience of which has led me to make the controversial suggestion of snapping it in half pre-toasting!

I have gone for a Sicilian-inspired sweet and sour vibe to the sauce, and included wild garlic since the toasty pasta makes a perfect foil for it. Wild garlic grows in woodland and is only in season for a few weeks in late spring, but it is a most excellent treat and these days canny foragers have made it easier to buy. When wild garlic is out of season or unavailable, just use a couple of finely sliced cloves of garlic and a handful of chopped parsley instead.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
400g spaghetti, snapped in half
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
20g butter
3 large red onions, finely sliced
40g raisins
40g blanched almonds
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
100ml white wine or dry cider
200g wild garlic, washed, trimmed and roughly shredded
sea salt
black pepper
40g freshly grated parmesan, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Put the spaghetti onto a large baking tray, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rub thoroughly into the pasta. Spread the strands out into an even layer, then toast in the oven for 7 minutes. Give the tray a good shake and turn it around, then return it to the oven for another 5 minutes. By now the spaghetti should be a rich golden brown, with the tips maybe a little darker. Give it a little longer if you think it needs it, but keep checking often, as it will burn very quickly.
  3. While the pasta is in the oven, put the rest of the olive oil and the butter in a heavy-based saucepan with a lid, add the onions and bring them up to a sizzle over a high heat. Add a pinch of salt, pop the lid on and turn the heat right down.
  4. Leave the onions to soften for a good 15 minutes, stirring from time to time to avoid them browning too much or sticking.
  5. Soak the raisins in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Toast the almonds in the oven for 5 minutes, then roughly chop. Once the onions are meltingly soft, take the lid off, turn the heat right up and add the vinegar and wine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer until the liquid has pretty much evaporated. Now throw in the wild garlic, put the lid on again and let it wilt down for a few minutes. Stir in the drained raisins and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring a very large pan of salted water to the boil. Carefully add the toasted spaghetti and cook for 7–10 minutes, depending on how you like your pasta – bear in mind that it will be drier post-toasting and so will take a little longer to cook. Drain and return to the pan, then tip in the onion-garlic mixture and stir thoroughly. Check the seasoning and stir in the almonds.
  7. Pile the spaghetti onto warm plates and serve with grated parmesan – I tend to scatter a little on top and then let people add more to taste.
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