Pasta Alla Genovese: Serves 2 adults at 19p per portion (or in my case, 1 adult, 1 small boy, and 1 next day lunchtime snack portion!)
100g spaghetti (8p: 40p for 500g)
50g fine green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1cm pieces (7p: £1.40/kg, frozen)
200g potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks (8p: 15p for 540g can)
Handful of basil leaves (Free, growing on my window ledge!)
Handful of mint leaves (Free, also growing on my window ledge!)
Pinch of grated parmesan cheese to serve, 10g approx (9p, £2.30/200g)
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed (3p: 46p for 2 bulbs, average 8 cloves per bulb)
Splash of vegetable or sunflower oil, 20ml approx (3p: £1.69/1l)
1. Break the long spaghetti in half for ease of cooking, serving, and eating, especially if you are intending to feed your children with it. It’s personal preference, but I prefer that I can just throw my spaghetti in the pan and let it do its thing. Cover with water, bring to the boil, back down to a simmer, and allow to simmer for ten minutes.
2. While the spaghetti is cooking, take the frustrations of the day out on your basil and garlic. I have a lovely bright red pestle and mortar that was a gift from a friend, but if you don’t have one, finely chop the basil and mint and crush the garlic. I find the best way to do this is to pop it in a bowl andc go some with the kitchen scissors, if you haven’t got Gordon Ramsays chopping technique down pat. If you do have a pestle and mortar, add the basil and mint leaves and garlic, and pound away until well combined into a satisfying mush. Add the parmesan and four teaspoons (20ml) of oil. Set to one side.
3. Add the potatoes and green beans to the pan. Twiddle thumbs for five minutes, or have a glass of water, or half-heartedly tidy the kitchen. It’s only five minutes, for goodness sake. I usually just stand and watch, flick a dishcloth around, and fiddle with my pesto a bit. Add a splash of the pasta/potato cooking water to the pesto to make a runny sauce, and by now it will all be ready to drain.
4. Drain the pasta/potato/green beans, and toss back into the saucepan. Spoon the pesto over, work it through the pasta quickly with a fork to coat it, shake it all up a bit and serve. If you want to be seriously carb-happy with your dinner, a nice buttered crusty roll goes down a treat with this. Add some extra parmesan to the top if you like, some black pepper, and eat. Proper winter comfort food, all carb-happy and filling and delicious…
If you have a little more money than me to spend in your weekly shop, you can separately fry pancetta pieces or crispy bacon, and toss in at the end with some spooned-in chunks of goats cheese in place of the parmesan. You know, if you have some rogue pancetta or bacon lying about that you don’t know what to do with, you could make this seriously special. With a smug sort of smile that it took you ten minutes at most…
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
*(All prices quoted are Sainsburys or Sainsburys Basics where available, correct at time of publication. Costs checked against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials ranges. Some variation between supermarkets but most items widely available at similar prices.)