Friday night pasta

Not to be confused with Saturday Night Pasta, the luxe and starchy self-care ritual Elizabeth Hewson has turned into a recipe book and lifestyle. No, this is Friday night pasta. For the end of a long week when the fridge is bare, the couch is calling and you CBF.

We’ve made some variation on Friday night pasta for the past few years, becoming more ruthlessly efficient over time.

I used to do a low and slow version inspired by one we made at the Agrarian Kitchen. Onions (maybe some fennel) caramelised in a skillet with a fair whack of olive oil, then add finely diced broccoli crumbs, a few anchovies, more chilli flakes than you think necessary and finish with lemon zest and breadcrumbs.

The classic Marcella Hazan tomato sauce has had plenty of runs too. This is a true pantry staple you can commit to memory for dinner emergencies – just an onion, some butter and a tin of tomatoes simmered until alchemy occurs.

But for more than a year our Friday night pasta has not wavered from a bastardised spaghetti al limone. It’s based on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, but we add a head of broccoli for health and virtue. It’s a no-cook sauce, and it comes together in one pot and one bowl, so the washing up isn’t too daunting.

Friday night lemon pasta:

Boil a big pot of salted water. Measure out 250g pasta for two hungry people (penne, spaghetti, fettuccine, whatever you have). While the pasta is cooking, zest a lemon into a big bowl then use your microplane to grate a shitload of parmesan. I think the original SK recipe called for something like 100g. You want your bowl to look about a third full. Juice the lemon. You’re looking for roughly 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add it to the bowl, along with 3 tablespoons of good olive oil. Grind in heaps of pepper. I like to add a good pinch of chilli flakes and some chopped parsley if we have it.

Chop a head of broccoli into bite-sized florets. Add these to the pot for the last 2 minutes of pasta cooking time. Grab about 1/3 cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta. Drain. Give the pasta and broccoli a couple of minutes to cool in your colander, and in the meantime mix the ingredients in the bowl and stir in some pasta water to temper the sauce. Then just stir the pasta through well and split between two big bowls and flop on the couch.

Icy gin martini or giant glass of red wine on the side optional but recommended.