Spaghetti with Rocket and Capers

3:16 am on 21 July 2007

The beauty of this dish is that you make the sauce while the pasta cooks. If you're nervous about that, prepare it ahead.

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus soaking time
Cook time: 7 minutes (sauce)
Serves 4-6 as a starter or 3-4 as a light meal with salad


  • 1/4 cup salted capers (or use capers in brine)
  • 160ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 500g spaghetti
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tiny dried 'bird's eye' chilis, crushed
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 3 cups rocket leaves
  • 1 cup small basil leaves
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving


Put capers in a sieve then rinse well under running water. Soak in fresh water for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse again. If using capers in brine, drain and rinse them.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan and when hot, add crumbs. Cook until golden and crisp, turning them often. Transfer to a side plate.

Cook pasta in plenty of gently boiling, well-salted water until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, peel garlic and chop very finely. Put remaining oil in a small pan, add garlic and chilis and warm gently over a low heat, so garlic and chilis flavour the oil; don't let the garlic fry.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large heated serving bowl. Quickly add lemon zest and capers to oil then pour the lot over the pasta. Toss well, then add rocket and basil. Toss carefully, scatter crumbs over then serve with Parmesan cheese.

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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