Spaghetti with Sprouts, Anchovies and Chilli


Sprouts are brilliant. Every year I go crazy for them, stuffing their titchy leaves into toasted sandwiches, eating them with bacon and egg on toast and now, shredding them into spaghetti. Many people don’t like them, I think, because they’re too stuck in the windy over-cooked past, or they’ve been forced into trying one of those ‘sprout slaw’ recipes, which are a result of misguided experimentation by people who are obsessed with nutrition but can’t really cook. You gotta blanch them first guys. Really.

Anyway they’re going to be a big thing this year, you wait and see. The Americans have already gone mad for them, spreading recipes all over the internet, and now London restaurants can’t get enough – see the tempura-d sprouts at Sexy Fish, or the deep fried fart-bombs at Sutton and Sons. And oh,  there will be more. God help us but it’s only a matter of time before someone dishes up a sprout Caesar.

As someone said to me the other day, sprouts are still one of the true seasonal vegetables – not like asparagus, which makes people go batshit every time it starts peeking and pointing at the sky, but a real old-school job, like swede, or … um, something else. Can you get swedes all year round? I dunno. Everything else is screwed really. I even saw samphire in great plastic punnets in Morrison’s yesterday. Yesterday! Grown in Israel, natch. Anyway look, I’m not a total arse about these things – I like to eat spring onions, limes and about ten trillion other imported fruit and vegetables year round as much as the next person. I’m just saying, the haters have done us a favour in a way, because the lil’ old sprout comes every year to the plate as a real treat, and so I cram as many into December as I possibly can.

Here’s a recipe for some spaghetti.

Spaghetti with Sprouts, Anchovies and Chilli

(reasonable people would probably claim that this serves 4 but I have no self control around pasta)

500g spaghetti
300g sprouts, shredded and woody stalk bits discarded
1 tin anchovies packed in oil
100g breadcrumbs (pref from a stale sourdough loaf)
3 cloves garlic, crushed (or however much you fancy)
1 red chilli, sliced
1 lemon
Olive oil
Parmesan to serve, if you like

Make the breadcrumbs first by heating the oil from the anchovy tin and frying the crumbs in it until crisp and golden. Keep an eye on them. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. In a pestle and mortar, smoosh up the anchovies, garlic and chilli with a teeny pinch of salt. Add the juice of the lemon. Mix. Blanch the sprouts for a minute or two in boiling water. Drain. Saute the sprouts with the anchovy mix. When pasta is cooked, drain reserving a little water. Mix sprouts, water and pasta. Black pepper. Serve with breadcrumbs sprinkled on top plus Parmesan if you fancy it. A drizzle of EVOO is welcome.

Check out my seasonal toasted sandwich recipe which includes a healthy portion of SPROUTS.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Hayley c December 10, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for supplying my lunch idea. Glad that 500g of pasta doesn’t serve 4 in your house either. Pasta is my vice.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen December 10, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Yeah it’s a problem for me. I have to limit the frequency of consumption because there’s no chance I’m limiting the quantity.

      • Avatar
        Reply Hayley c December 10, 2015 at 10:37 am

        Ha! Also my strategy. Only once a week but AS MUCH AS I WANT.

  • Avatar
    Reply Niamh December 10, 2015 at 11:34 am

    “‘sprout slaw’ recipes, which are a result of misguided experimentation by people who are obsessed with nutrition but can’t really cook. You gotta blanch them first guys. Really.”


    I adore sprouts and I have been powering through them. Joyful little things.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen December 10, 2015 at 11:43 am

      It’s so true though, right? I mean I’m not against it, but RAW sprouts? No. I was just saying to someone else how I love them cooked really simply, steamed with butter.

      • Avatar
        Reply Niamh December 11, 2015 at 12:40 pm

        Flaash fried, steamed, roasted. But not raw 🙂 With butter and nutmeg = dreamy. x

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    Reply Leila December 10, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Love sprouts, but what I can’t get enough of are sprout tops – freaking amazing steamed with butter and nutmeg, or shredded in a stir fry. During December I pretty much subsist on sprouts, clementines and advent calendar chocs…

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen December 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      YES. Love sprout tops. Let us embrace as much of the sprout plant as possible!

  • Avatar
    Reply John December 12, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    I made this for lunch today. It really rocked. The breadcrumbs are genius!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen December 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Brilliant! So glad you like it and yes, the crumbs are so great for texture.

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