Budget Supermarket Pasta

In Van Life Cookbook authors Danny Jack and Hailee Kukura share a collection of recipes designed to be cooked and enjoyed in the small kitchen spaces of campervans and caravans, or in the great outdoors. They are also budget conscious, and eat a predominantly vegetarian diet.

This Budget Supermarket Pasta recipe includes anchovies and cheese, but the authors note that you can make it vegetarian by omitting the anchovies and make it vegan by substituting nutritional yeast for the cheese.

Budget Supermarket Pasta

Read our full review of Van Life Cookbook by Danny Jack and Hailee Kukura by reviewer Ruthy Jenkins.

Budget Supermarket Pasta

This is our go-to pasta dish if we’re in a pinch, on a budget or have limited options at our disposal. You should be able to get all these ingredients from a corner shop, garage or small supermarket. The important part is to spend time sweating down the base – we call this ‘melding’. Another tip is to save some of the pasta water to make an emulsion with the oily sauce at the end. You can omit the anchovies and Parmesan to make a plant-based version, if you prefer.
Servings 4
Author Danny Jack and Hailee Kukura


  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus an extra splash
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh red chilli,seeds left in, depending on heat preference or 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 5-6 canned anchovy fillets in oil, drained (optional)
  • 500 g (1lb 2oz) dried pasta, such as fusilli, penne or rigatoni
  • 1 head of broccoli,stalk and florets cut into small pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast, to garnish (optional)


  • Put a pot of salted water on to boil and move on to make the sauce.
  • Add the olive oil to a large, non-stick frying pan and sweat the onion, garlic, chilli and anchovies (if using) with a pinch of salt over a medium heat until very soft, about 15–20 minutes in total. During this sweating process, it doesn’t matter if the mix browns a little; just add in a splash of water, then continue cooking, sweating down until the onion mixture starts to stick. Add a splash of water to deglaze and reduce again, repeating several times during the 15–20 minutes until the onion mixture is like a rich paste. They refer to this as ‘in umido’ in Italian, which roughly translates as steam cooking, and which we affectionately call ‘melding’.
  • Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water along with the splash of olive oil and cook according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside in the cooking pot, saving half a cupful of the pasta water.
  • Add the chopped broccoli stalk to the onion mixture with a splash of the reserved pasta water to help it steam-fry, moving it around in the pan for about a minute until softened, then add the florets and repeat again until vibrant green and tender.
  • Stir in the pasta and the remaining reserved pasta water and mix together with
  • tongs or a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Plate up and garnish with grated Parmesan or nutritional yeast (if using), or
  • enjoy as it is.

Reviewer Ruthy has always enjoyed the combination of pasta, garlic, broccoli and cheese so was immediately drawn to this recipe. She also appreciated it’s economical nature.

Patience is needed to sweat down the base of onion, garlic, chilli and anchovy at the start, but she reckons the end result is absolutely worth it. She was also delighted to discover that leftovers were just as tasty (if not more so) when reheated the next day.

Budget Supermarket Pasta


Recipe extracted with permission. Kavey Eats received a review copy of Van Life Cookbook by Danny Jack and Hailee Kukura from publishers Pavilion. Book photography by Holly Farrier. Home-cooking photography by Ruthy Jenkins.

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One Comment to "Budget Supermarket Pasta"

  1. Bubble Tea Island

    This budget pasta dish looks like a great option for when I’m in a pinch or trying to save money. I appreciate that there are options for both anchovy and Parmesan for those who eat them and a plant-based alternative for those who don’t. The tip to save some pasta water to make an emulsion with the sauce is a great one, and I’ll have to try “melding” the onions and garlic to get a rich paste. The recipe is easy to follow and looks delicious. Thank you for sharing!


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