Spaghetti with red mullet ragout

Spaghetti with red mullet
This recipe for spaghetti with red mullet ragout was written by Sara Danesin – UK MasterChef Finalist 2011 – for Garofalo pasta, and we are most grateful to have her send it to Kitchen Geekery too.
The beauty of spaghetti with red mullet ragout is that although the fish is fairly expensive, it is sustainable and readily available. Furthermore, it is a well-rounded meal with a range of flavours and mixes good quality proteins, vegetables, nuts and plenty of vitamins.
Lastly, if you make more pesto than you use, it can keep for days if covered in oil and refrigerated or frozen.
Cooking Pasta
The golden rule for cooking pasta properly is to use 1 litre/2 pints of water for every 100g/3½ oz of of pasta! Don’t bother adding ANY oil (it has better uses) to prevent pasta from sticking: it is the quantity of water and regular stirring that will ensure pasta doesn’t stick.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4


  • 400 g garofalo spaghetti
  • 4 small fillets of red mullet, pin boned, scaled, and diced
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 40 g parmesan
  • 40 g pine nuts
  • a handful of taggiasche
  • olives (not pitted)
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp anchovy paste
  • ½ glass of white wine


  • Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, peel, de seed them and roughly chop (leave aside)
  • In a saucepan, melt some anchovy paste and a generous amount of oil, together with a clove of garlic roughly chopped. Simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, the red mullet, and a splash of white wine. Simmer further until the fish is cooked and the wine is fully evaporated.
  • In a mortar, put some Malden salt and some dry basil leaves. Please note you must follow the order to maintain the vivid green of the basil!
  • Pestle enough to obtain a green paste, then add the pine nuts, and when the mix is smooth add very little garlic, followed by the grated Parmesan. Once combined add some extra virgin olive oil.
  • To cook the pasta, use a large capacity pan and bring to the boil 4 litres/1 gallon of water, add salt and then the pasta.
  • Dress the pasta with the sauce, sprinkle a small quantity of pesto, the olives and enjoy!

If you love Italian food, you might find our article about Italian Food Terms useful.

The ancient Romans reared red mullet in ponds where they were attended and caressed by their owners, and taught to come to be fed at the sound of the voice or bell of the keeper.