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Quick courgette pasta with anchovies, tomato and parmesan

Grating courgette for a super quick pasta sauce is something I have done for a while; a friend introduced me to the idea, and ever since I’ve been hooked. It’s such a great way, not only of cooking the veggie quickly, but also – and this is why I’ve posted it really – it’s a brilliant way of hiding a big green vegetable in a pasta sauce that your kids will actually eat!

This dish takes just over 15 minutes from start to finish – perfect for those occasions when you walk through the door and children start screaming that they’re hungry at you in a slightly scary and very annoying manner. Here’s what to do: pour yourself a wine or beer (see above); stick on an episode of Scooby Doo (what do you mean you don’t series record it?) and set to work on this little number. By the time the baddie is revealed and says “I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you pesky kids!” dinner will be served! 
So, there is a whole tin of anchovies in this sauce but don’t be alarmed. It just gives a real depth of flavour and richness to the dish. The kids won’t even notice; it doesn’t taste fishy at all. But do omit extra salt as you won’t need it. 
P.S – I have started buying those large bottles of passata. They are so much better than tinned tomatoes for making a quick sauce as they are sieved, so they don’t have any chunks to break down. They are also more pure than tinned tomatoes, containing nothing but tomatoes most of the time. Just use a little bit, pop the lid back on and save the rest in the fridge. 
P.P.S – I have stopped buying normal pasta now and go for wholegrain, spelt and even brown rice or buckwheat – it’s much healthier and the kids don’t even notice. 
Serves: 4
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

2 courgettes, grated (on a cheese grater – not too fine)
3 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil 
100g parmesan  
1 small tin of anchovies, oil too
About 5 tablespoons of passata
300g wholewheat penne

  1. Put a big pan of water on to boil – use the kettle to speed this bit up! As soon as it’s boiling pop the penne – or other pasta of your choice – in. 
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and let it begin to sizzle. Tip the anchovies in too at this point, and let them melt into the hot oil. Give them a hand with a wooden spoon, separating them and moving them around a bit. (Some chilli flakes would be perfect too at this point if not feeding kids!)
  3. Add the grated courgette and let it cook over a wide surface area – the liquid in the vegetable should evaporate better this way. 
  4. Pop in a good few tablespoons of passata once your feel the courgettes are almost there. Stir well and let the sauce come together. 
  5. Test the pasta to see if it’s ready yet and reserve half a mugful of the starchy cooking water – this will help the sauce to come together at the end. Drain if done. 
  6. Tip the pasta into the sauce and season with pepper. Add the parmesan cheese, a splash of the pasta water and a glug of extra virgin olive oil. Toss well and if needed, add a splash more cooking water. 
  7. Serve with more cheese sprinkled on top. 

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