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Berwick, North Northumberland: Food-Travel-Culture-Community

Lunch wars and the perfect use for limp, leftover spaghetti

When both partners work from home, the lunch question is ever present. If you’re home alone, it’s okay to have a bowl of crisps, a Twix, and the five grapes left in the bottom of the bowl that no one’s going to eat – and then work your way through the packet of chocolate Hobnobs during the course of the afternoon. But if your partner is there, what to do?

For the last three years The Husband and I have faced this question. More to the point, I have. That’s because it is usually me who wanders through to the kitchen and decides it’s lunchtime. Whether that’s because I get hungrier than he does, or I’m less engrossed in what I’m doing than he is, or what I do is easier to pause than his weighty works, I don’t know. And, because I’m the one in the kitchen, I’m the one with the dilemma.

Should I just grab a bit of what I fancy and leave nothing but crumbs so that he can sort himself out when he’s good and ready? Should I wander into his office and ask what he’d like for lunch? Should I pop my head round the door and ask him what he’s making me for lunch? Or, should I just go out? Of course, then I’d have to decide whether to invite him or not…

Today was a point in case. I sniffed the manky piece of fish in the bottom of the fridge, put it on a plate and offered it to The Husband. He was delighted to accept. What, I asked, would he be having with it. ‘Salad,’ came the reply. I rustled around in the fridge and pulled out salady bits and pieces. In doing so I came across the cold spaghetti from yesterday’s bolognaise. I could hardly miss it. The Husband had been in charge – and confessed not to be really thinking about pasta when he tipped it into the pan. There was a coiled mountain of the stuff, just waiting to be looked at and ignored over the forthcoming days. But when I spotted the chestnut mushrooms I knew what my lunch would be.

And so it came to pass that I invited The Husband back from his desk to create his salad, whilst I designed the most delicious use for left over spaghetti I’ve had for a long time. And, yes, I did share it with him. And he shared his salad with me.

Tomorrow’s lunchtime stand-off already looms large. Meanwhile, here’s the dish – the recipe’s underneath – no measurements as it really is a question of taste.

The best use for cold leftover spaghetti that I have come up with yet.

The best use for cold leftover spaghetti that I have come up with yet.

Spaghetti with mushrooms, garlic, chili & coriander


1. Cold leftover spaghetti (this is where you al dente cooks come into your own, as it reheats more effectively than soft cooked pasta which tends to be a bit sticky). 2. Chestnut mushrooms – sliced. 3. Garlic – crushed. 4. Chili – chopped (I used fresh). 5. Fresh coriander. 6. Butter & olive oil for frying. 7. Salt & pepper.


Melt the butter and oil on a medium heat in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms and soften. Add the garlic and chili and swizzle around for a bit, season with salt and pepper. Tip in the spaghetti and whack the heat up a bit give it all a good stir and ensure the spaghetti gets hot, add the coriander, toss it around a bit more.


On a plate with a smile or a scowl depending on your mood.

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