the midnight oil

Yes the midnight oil. Have been burning a bit too much of it lately so I’ll be brief this week. But please don’t take that to mean that I’ve skimped on this weeks recipe. No my friends, I have a real winner for you, something that’s recently become a firm favourite in our house. A quick, simple pasta based on a secret ingredient, chilli oil.

Now I used to think that I wasn’t a fan of flavoured oils. And if you’re a little hesitant, I know where you’re coming from. But this has been the oil that has overcome my prejudice and if you’re a fan of chilli in any way at all, I urge you to make a small batch and give it a go. Who knows? You may become addicted as well.

The best thing about this chilli oil is that you have all the lovely chunky, sweet, garlicy chilli bits at the bottom of the jar. This lets you customize your chilli experience and add more or less of it depending on how hot you’re feeling….all good things.
chilli oil
makes approx 1L

I’m surprised just how frequently I’ve been using this oil. It adds a lovely subtle warmth to many dishes. I recently used it as a drizzle over some BBQ lamb kofta and have let it add some kick to a chickpea and tabouli salad.

400g (14 oz) long red chillies
6 large cloves garlic
800mL (3 1/3 C) extra virgin olive oil

Halve chillies lengthwise and deseed, using gloves if you’re worried about burn. Peel and smash garlic to open up a little. Place chilli, garlic and oil in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.

Allow to simmer until garlic is golden brown. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Transfer chilli and garlic to a food processor and puree with a little of the oil. Return solids to the oil and store in an airtight container.

Will keep in the fridge for a couple of months.


spaghetti with basil and chilli oil
serves 4
Inspired by Sean Moran from his lovely book Let It Simmer.

One of the signature dishes at Sean’s Panaroma is his linguine with rocket and chilli oil. While I haven’t yet tried it at the restaurant, it’s been a favourite at home for a while. I’ve mixed it up a little by using basil in place of the rocket but pretty much any fresh green herb would work. Of course if you don’t happen to have any greenery at hand you could get by with just chilli oil, some lemon juice and the parmesan.

This is the perfect mid week meal. All it takes is boiling the water for the pasta, grating some parmesan, shredding some basil and you’re done. If you hadn’t been organized enough to make the delicious chilli oil above you could substitute in some commercial chilli oil or even go for a mild version with some good quality extra virgin olive oil.

400g spaghetti
200mL chilli oil, recipe above
2 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
juice 1 lemon
200g parmesan cheese (grana padano)
½ bunch basil , leaves picked
extra parmesan, to serve

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile combine chilli oil, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta. Grate the cheese and finely shred the basil.

Cook pasta until al dente according to the packet instructions. Scoop some cooking water into a cup and then drain pasta. Toss in the bowl with the chilli oil mix and then toss through the basil and parmesan and if it looks dry some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Season and serve immediately with extra parmesan passed separately.


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