FA Student Foodie: the simple spaghetti dish to serve all students

By Fleur Feeney |

Oily spaghetti (or mystery spaghetti) is a favourite in my student household. It’s quick and easy, takes zero effort and is still an indulgent treat after a hard day of uni. A little Italian in its simplicity, this recipe can also be used as a base for a number of spaghetti dishes, as you only need to add a couple of ingredients here and there to get a whole new meal — add white wine and a veggie stock cube for something more sophisticated, or maybe a dash of lemon juice and some peas for a lighter, brighter alternative. Simply put, the idea is that some olive oil and a knob of butter is all you need for a lovely dinner; each spaghetti strand should be coated lightly in oil so you have silky smooth pasta dish ready to eat in minutes. Enjoy responsibly — it’s delicious!

The ingredient quantities are largely decided by eyeballing it. To serve 3 or 4 people add the appropriate amount of spaghetti, and a little more oil or butter if needed. Otherwise, this recipe will serve one hungry person.


90g spaghetti (per person)

3(ish) garlic cloves

A glug of olive oil (approx. 2 tbsp)

A knob of butter

Half a small white onion

2 handfuls spinach (if you fancy for added goodness)



Put a pan of salted water on high heat over the stove, and once it’s boiling add your spaghetti. Cook according to packet instructions (though you’re probably looking at about 9 or 10 minutes for an al dente pasta). 

Whilst your spaghetti is cooking, heat a frying pan and generously glug in some olive oil (you’re looking at about 2 tablespoons).

Finely chop your garlic cloves and onion, then add both to the pan and cook on a low heat until golden brown and sizzling. 

Add a generous knob of butter to the pan and tear in some fresh basil leaves. In the absence of fresh basil, half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of the dried cupboard stuff is perfectly fine. (If you have them, you could opt for oregano or thyme instead.)

Mix it thoroughly ensuring the oil and butter is all melted together.

In the last minute or two of cooking, you may want to add a couple of handfuls of spinach to the spaghetti for some *ahem* health.

Serve up, pouring over any remaining garlic-y oil. Add cheese if you want to (I always do).

Voila! A simple yet satisfying student dinner is served.