Spaghetti with breadcrumbs, tuna, parsley and lemon

Photo credit – Ryan Baker

Lemons are a kitchen staple that most of us just couldn’t do without. They are essential to squeeze over fish and chips or added to a gin and tonic. Where would we be without lemons for lemon tarts and cakes drizzled with tangy lemon icing. And the zesty tang of lemon in Thai and Mexican food.

There are several varieties of lemons to choose from. Eureka, Lisbon and Meyer are some of the more popular ones. Meyer is by far the hardest variety to come by, but you should get hold of some, their extra zesty flavour makes them ideal for baking, dressings and sauces.

The best time of year to be buying and cooking with lemons is late summer through to early spring. Choose fruit that is heavy for its size, is firm to the touch and gives off a great aroma. Lemons will keep for at least 2 weeks, but will soften over that time. Keep at room temperature in a well ventilated spot.

Besides the all-important juice, the zest of citrus fruit is also important in cooking. The easiest way to remove zest from citrus fruit is with a zester and it is well worth purchasing one from a kitchenware shop. Otherwise cover the finest holes of a grater with baking paper and rub fruit evenly all over. Remove baking paper to get all the zest away from the holes. Ensure only the thin rind is used, not the white pith.

This is an old classic recipe, Spaghetti with breadcrumbs, tuna, parsley and lemon. And I say an old classic as variations on this recipe have been appearing in my cookbooks as far back as 2002.

The method is pretty simple, toasting roughly chopped breadcrumbs in hot olive oil and tossing it with tuna, lemon, parsley, parmesan and cooked spaghetti. Mix and it’s ready to eat. One adaption I’d suggest is 100g of dried pasta is a big serve. You can easily get away with 75g per person. Parmesan is optional here, typically cheese is not served with seafood pastas. But somehow I really like it here.

Enjoy! Allan Campion

Spaghetti with breadcrumbs, tuna, parsley and lemon

400 g dried spaghetti

Olive oil for cooking

175 g sourdough bread, chopped into coarse breadcrumbs

Chopped zest and juice of 1 lemon

350 g tinned tuna, drained

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Parmigiano (parmaesan cheese), grated, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over a high heat. Add a good pinch of salt.

Add pasta and stir until water has returned to the boil.

Reduce heat, cover and cook pasta at a fast simmer for 8 minutes.

Heat a large heavy-based frypan over a medium–high heat.

Add a generous layer of oil, heat well, add breadcrumbs and cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring often until breadcrumbs are golden and crunchy. Remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta and place back into the same saucepan.

Add the toasted breadcrumbs, lemon zest and juice, tuna, salt and pepper and parsley.

Toss together well and it’s ready to serve. Add parmigiano if using.

Serves 4.

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