Ok – I have never actually made this while hung over. But whenever I make it, it strikes me as exactly the meal I should make if I were. Like probably all of you, I have a very intricate system of bookmarking, particularly when it comes to online recipes that I want to try out. Under my “Recipes” folder I have a very complicated and unsystematic collection of sub-folders with titles like “Fancy food”, “Strawberries”, “Vegan” and “Things to do with bread”. A new folder pops up every time I either see a recipe that doesn’t quite fit into any of the other categories, or if I start looking for specific recipes because I know a particular item is about to come into season.
One folder that I particularly enjoy is “Hangover”. It only contains a couple of recipes, none of which I have actually made (not because I haven’t have hangovers, but because when I have it hasn’t come to mind), all of which contain melted cheese. One of the recipes in my “hangover” folder is Cacio e Pepe by The Shortlists, and it was that recipe that inspired me to create this spaghetti.
So, in addition to being inspired by something I classified as a hangover recipe, this spaghetti is cheesy, full of carbs, a little spicy, very quick to make and can be made from things lying around the house. The perfect hangover spaghetti. Or, you know, anytime spaghetti.
Note: Ok – maybe you don’t have harissa and zatar hanging around your house (unless you have ever stocked up for an Ottolenghi recipe, like half the world).
Harissa is a tunisian spice paste – it is amazing, and gives this pasta its unique flavour. Seeing as you don’t use too much harissa for any one recipe, once you have bought a jar it will be around for many meals. However, if you can’t find it, or just can’t be bothered (this is Hangover Spaghetti after all) then you could either omit the harissa or replace it with some Thai red curry paste, if you happen to have some lying around.
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture of blended herbs, sesame and salt. As it is just about the most popular ingredient with food bloggers at the moment, once again it is worth getting if you can lay your hands on some (or making your own). That said, it is not essential like the harissa – the first time I made this spaghetti I used fresh shredded basil instead and it was probably equally as good.
Dried spaghetti enough for 2 or 3 people
30g (2 tablespoons) salted butter
2-3 heaped teaspoons of harissa (2 is spicy enough for me, but I have a low spice threshold)
Salt and pepper
150g (5.3 oz) parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of za’tar per person (this is for garnish, alternatively use shredded basil leaves)
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. While waiting for the water to boil, finely grate the cheese.
When the water is at a boil, add the spaghetti. You want it to cook for 4 minutes less than the directions on the packet, as it is going to finish cooking in the sauce at the end.
While the spaghetti is cooking, melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot (remember it has to be large enough to fit the spaghetti once it is done). Add the harissa and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes until it begins to sizzle. Be careful not to to let it burn. Add a pinch of salt and a lot of pepper, stir to combine and take off the heat.
When the spaghetti is done (4 minutes earlier than it says in the packet), take off the heat, and remove and save 1.5 cups of the cooking water before draining. Add half the reserved cooking water, and all the drained spaghetti to the butter/harissa pot, and place back on the heat. Cook for 2 minutes, reduce the heat and add half the cheese. Stir together to make a sauce – as the pasta cooks it will absorb more of the cooking water and your sauce will thicken. (Add more cooking water if needed to give the consistency you want). Add the remaining cheese, stir together and serve immediately.
To garnish, sprinkle each bowl with a couple of teaspoons of za’tar.