First off let me say that while my fried spaghetti with cheddar, tomatoes, and onions is UNBELIEVABLY easy, quick and tasty, it is definitely not a “healthy” vegetarian recipe. It is in fact, the recipe I only go to when I am under-the-weather, hungover, hangry, or just plain fed-up and looking for food comfort. Most of the time I try to keep an eye on my calories. And does it solve those issues for me? Yes, yes and yes. A little bit of what you fancy, now and then, will do you no harm.
Most comfort food recipes either come from your roots or your childhood meals, and this recipe is no exception. My mum used to make fried spaghetti with cheddar just enough so that every time she said “Guess what’s for dinner?”, we would shout excitedly “Fried cheesy spaghetti?!?!”(nine times out of ten nope, my mother was no nutritional fool).
But not that often, so we would still boil over with excitement when she announced it was fried cheddar spaghetti. Just magical, the combination of our favourite twirly pasta with cheddar, fried and gooey with stretchy stringy cheese mixed in with crispy bits. Absolute carb and fat heaven.
One day I think I was at home sick, or maybe it was when I broke my arm, but for whatever reason, my ferociously hungry siblings were not around. Apart from the smallest (no competition – literally like stealing candy from a baby). My mother, for whatever reason, was in a good mood and feeling kindly towards me that day, and made me cheesy spaghetti – but with TOMATO and ONION. Like, all my favourite foods in the world combined!
She made it once or twice afterwards, upon request, but I don’t know whether it was the ingredients or the cooking style, it never tasted the same. And over the years, every time I felt ravenously hungry or yucky or just had nothing else left in my fridge except cheese, (spaghetti, tomatoes and onions are pretty much permanent fixtures in my kitchen, no surprise there), I would try to recreate that amazing fried spaghetti.
And so here it is. Just five ingredients, apart from seasoning, and ready in well under half an hour, enjoy!
- 2 medium onions or one large Spanish onion, chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 500 g spaghetti
- 120 grams mature cheddar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the water on to boil for the spaghetti and salt with a heavy pinch of salt.
- Add the olive oil to a large non-stick frying pan or wok and heat on high. When it's sizzling hot, add the chopped onions.
- Stir the onions quite frequently, they should start to brown evenly. Grate your cheddar cheese. After five minutes, turn the heat down to medium, and continue to stir as needed to prevent burning. When they are quite brown (another two - three minutes), then add the tomatoes and the salt. Turn the heat up to medium high.
- At this stage you can probably add your spaghetti to the boiling water. Wait until you can push the spaghetti into the water so that it is all covered, and it has come to the boil again, and then reduce the heat to medium-high, and set a timer for ten minutes. Stir every two-three minutes, making sure to separate any strands that are sticking together.
- Stir your tomato onion mixture often, making sure nothing burns, until the tomatoes are broken down. Take off the heat if necessary until the timer goes off on the spaghetti. Check, before you drain it, that the spaghetti is al dente or nearly done, and reserve a cup of the pasta-water in case you need to loosen the sauce.
- Drain the spaghetti and quickly add to the hot pan with the tomatoes and onions. Make sure the heat is set to high. Use spaghetti tongs to thoroughly mix and coat the spaghetti with the broken down tomatoes and onions.
- Add in a third of the cheddar and use the tongs again to mix thoroughly. Let it sit for two minutes without stirring, longer if your prefer more crispy spaghetti and cheese segments, less if you prefer a less-crispy more-creamy sauce.
- Add 1/3 a cup of the pasta water, mix well, and add another third of the cheddar, mixing well. Two minutes later, decide whether you want crispier spaghetti or creamier spaghetti. If you want it crispier, add in the cheddar and toss well, leave it longer without stirring until it crisps up to your personal preference. If you want it creamier, add in the remaining cheddar and another 1/3 cup pasta water and toss until everything is melted.
- You can add what you wish from the last 1/3 pasta water to adjust the consistency to your tastes. Personally, I add 2/3 f the cup to get it creamy, and let it sit longer periods without stirring to get crispy areas.
- Test for salt and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.