To stop her waistline (and other anatomical features) expanding, Greedy Girl hits the gym and prefers to do so in the early evening. Espousing the theory of ‘go hard or go home’, for this particular workout she was joined by her pescetarian friend Ms Divine, who’s a fitness instructor in her spare time. Once appropriately worn out after an intense session of push-ups, burpees and other assorted tortures, they took the short walk to Casa Greedy Girl where resident chef, gluttonous husband, was preparing a delightful, post-workout snack – his take on spaghetti marinara.

We were chef’s lab rats for the evening as he tried out one of his new recipes. This is a variation of a light and refreshing pasta we enjoy during cherry tomato season, which is basically the tomatoes, feta, avocado, lemon and basil oil. Ditching the feta and avocado, we included calamari, prawns, chilli flakes and fresh basil – and it worked extremely well.

Ingredients (for four people)
Two punnets cherry tomatoes
Four cloves of garlic
300ml good quality olive oil (doesn’t have to be extra virgin but something with a good flavour)
1 tsp caster sugar
Half a bunch of fresh basil
1 tsp dried basil flakes
300 grams calamari rings
400 grams prawns/shrimp
.5 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
Lemon juice
Your choice of pasta (obviously we think spaghetti is the best match)

Place oil in a small saucepan, half the leaves from the basil (no stalks) and two peeled garlic cloves. Gently heat over a low flame (use a heat disperser to keep it very low), cover and bring to a low simmer (just see it start to bubble) for around 30 minutes to infuse the oil with the basil and garlic flavours. Let it cool down, strain and set aside.

Take three tablespoons of that oil (the rest can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for when you next need it) and place in large cast-iron (or heavy bottomed) pot. Take your calamari rings and cut into bite-sized pieces (around two centimetre lengths) and place in the oil. Sprinkle the chilli flakes so they soften a little in the oil.

Calamari in oil

Soften in the oil

Halve your cherry tomatoes. Place them, cut side up, on top of the oil, chilli and calamari mixture. After you have one layer, sprinkle a little caster sugar over the tomatoes, some dried basil and salt. You also need to add a little pepper but use it judiciously, depending on how peppery your olive oil tastes. If need be, you can do another layer of the tomatoes but make sure the cut surface has the sugar/salt/dried basil/pepper mixture.

Add cherry tomatoes

Layer in the tomatoes

Put this on a very low heat again (the heat diffuser can help here) and cook for an hour, covered.


Tomatoes in one layer, sprinkled with dried herbs

The tomatoes will break down a bit but largely retain their shape. The addition of the calamari gives a lovely seafood flavour to the oil and removes the need to add fish stock.
Cooked down tomatoes

Tomatoes cook down but keep their shape

You can do this part earlier in the day and set aside, or continue with the rest of the recipe. If you’re continuing straight away, after an hour, take the lid off the pot, taste the tomatoes for seasoning and chilli and adjust if necessary. Turn up the heat if needed to bring them to a slow simmer.

Next up it’s time to put on your pasta – if you’re using dried, it can take anywhere from eight to 12 minutes. If you’re using fresh and it takes only a few minutes, you may wish to cook your pasta at the end. Once the pasta is going, it’s time for the prawns.


Fry the prawns separately

In a small frypan on low heat, melt the butter. Add two cloves of crushed garlic. Turn up to a high heat and add the prawns (make sure they’re peeled and de-veined), ideally cut into bite-sized pieces. As soon as the prawns change colour on all sides, they’re ready – put them straight into the tomato mixture. Don’t overcook the prawns – they’ll go mushy.

Take the tomato mixture off the heat. Drain your pasta and add it to the sauce and mix together. Serve immediately with a few fine slices of fresh basil and squeeze on a little lemon juice.

And you’re done. If you infuse the oil and cook your tomatoes beforehand, the rest of the dish is a very quick meal indeed. Enjoy!

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