A Trio of 3 Ingredient Spaghetti

Spaghetti is a perfect food. It can effortlessly carry hundreds of different flavours and textures. Best of all it needs very few ingredients to make it delicious. That’s why it’s one of my go-to solutions when I’m short on time. If you are in a jam then there are probably a few ingredients in the cupboard or fridge that can be transformed into a family meal. I love spaghetti but you can use any pasta. I have three fast pasta recipes I rely on for a speedy, delicious family meal.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Fibre
Like iron, fibre helps to regulate blood sugar and your body uses it for the production of serotonin, an essential chemical for mental health.

I’m going to assume that you have salt and olive oil because they’re in each dish. I make the spaghetti the same each time: large saucepan 3/4 full with water brought to the boil then salted generously. Add 100g spaghetti for each adult and 50g for each child then cook until al dente (cooked but still with bite) approximately 7 minutes.


I make batches of roasted garlic then keep jars of these little jewels in the fridge. You can use fresh garlic if you don’t have roasted. I keep fresh chillies in the freezer but you can use dried chilli flakes (these are ever-present in my spice drawer). If your family doesn’t like chilli then swap this out for chopped tomatoes. If you don’t have a whole lemon you can get away with using lemon juice from a bottle.

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids
300g spaghetti
100ml olive oil
12 roasted garlic cloves (1 head if using raw)
1 large chilli pepper or 1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large unwaxed lemon

  • Once the spaghetti is cooking heat the olive oil in a large skillet on a medium heat (you don’t want to burn the garlic). It looks like a lot of oil but it makes the sauce to coat all the spaghetti. Chop the garlic and chilli then add to the pan and cook slowly for 5 minutes. Use a microplane to grate the zest of the lemon onto a chopping board.
  • When the spaghetti is aldente dip a jug into the pan and save 125ml of pasta water then drain and immediately tip the spaghetti into the skillet. Toss the spaghetti in the oil until it’s coated then squeeze over the lemon juice. If you need more liquid use the pasta water to loosen the pasta. Toss again then dish up and sprinkle over the lemon zest.
  • If you want to add an extra ingredient you can sprinkle over some dried parsley for a pop of green.


Did you know you can keep smoked salmon in the freezer? It takes up very little room and can be turned into a decadent pasta dish in a flash without having to defrost. If you don’t have cream cheese you can use cream or creme fraiche. Milk is just a little too thin to hold the sauce together.

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids

300g spaghetti
1 tbsp olive oil
150g smoked salmon
2 tbsps capers (plus brine)
150g cream cheese

  1. Once the spaghetti has been cooking for 3 minutes slice the salmon into bite-sized pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat then add the capers and cook for 1 minute then add the cream cheese and stir until you have a sauce.
  2. When the spaghetti is aldente reserve 125ml of the pasta water then drain and add the spaghetti to the skillet and toss. Gradually add the pasta water until all the spaghetti is coated in the sauce. Add the salmon and toss one last time then serve and add some fresh or dried chives if you want to add a 4th ingredient.


Don’t be put off by the anchovies because they dissolve completely into the sauce and simply add a salty umami taste to the dish. Anchovies are cheap, nutritional and take up very little room in the cupboard so it’s well worth giving them a try. You can use fresh or dried basil.

Serves 2 Adults and 2 Kids

2 tbsp olive oil
400g passata
1 tin anchovies
50g pitted black olives
(optional bunch of fresh basil)

  1. Once the spaghetti is cooking heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Tip the anchovies and anchovy oil into the skillet and break up the fillets with a wooden spoon. Add the passata and stir to combine with the oil and anchovies. Slice the olives in half then add to the sauce.
  2. When the spaghetti is aldente drain and tip the spaghetti into the skillet. Toss the spaghetti in the sauce and gradually add 100ml of fresh water to loosen. Serve and garnish with fresh basil, whole or chopped, if you want to add a 4th ingredient.

Published by One Tough Cooker

I'm the writer at One Tough Cooker. My experience with post-natal depression has shaped my appreciation for the family cook. We make thousands of meals to feed our families' tummies, hearts and minds.

3 thoughts on “A Trio of 3 Ingredient Spaghetti

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