We all love those jars of sun-dried tomatoes and roasted peppers.  Hey, I even sometimes make them (I know I’m fucking insufferable sometimes).

What about all that oil though? Okay, it’s probably not the *best* olive oil but so what?  The tomatoes or peppers have been marinading that oil for months, and there’s probably some herbs and maybe garlic in there. So even though it’s sunflower or vegetable oil in there – well, do you ever cook with those?  Of course you do!  So don’t chuck it down the sink or into the bin!

Third mug of tea in hand, I sat at my darling sister in law’s kitchen table on a cold morning as she cooked and I confess – I shouted, I yelped at her, the upturned jar of oil in her hand:
“Eh?” she said
“I’d use that for dinner!” We smiled at each other and she promised to not bin any more (I’m holding her to it).

Think about it – when we cook, we’re trying to get nice flavours together.  The nice flavours are already together!  So just use it and don’t chuck it, please!

So, the most simple, most easy way, to make the most out of your herb-y, tomato-y, garlic-y oil, is to stir it through some pasta.  Cook some garlic in the oil, if you like; add some cooked veg, if you like.  But a very cheap lunch could be yours, full of flavour and taking 10-15 minutes to cook.

(PS Apols if instructions on how to cook pasta seem too preachy, but I learnt this way from Rachel Roddy‘s amazing books, and means that you won’t end up with lumps of pasta that are impossible to un-glue).

Pasta with leftover sundried tomato oil

Serves 1-2


Oil from your jar of sundried tomatoes
50 – 100 grams pasta
Any olives/sundried tomatoes/little peppers from the jar


Saucepan with lid
Sieve, if you want to get little bits out of the oil
Heatproof jug
Optional: frying pan


However long it takes to cook pasta + about 5-10 minutes


Sieve oil if you like
If using any of the optional ingredients, get them all chopped up


Put your pasta water on
When the water is boiling add salt and then the pasta
Put the pinger on for 2 minutes fewer than the packet directs
When the pinger goes off, save a a small jug of pasta water (around 50-80 millilitres) in your heatproof jug/little bowl
Try the pasta – you want it a little underdone because it’s going to cook more with the courgettes
When it’s ready, strain the pasta in the waiting colander
While the pasta is draining, take the garlic and stir it into the pan with the leftover oil
After about 30 seconds you should smell the garlic
Stir the pasta into the pan with the oil and add any optional tomatoes, herbs etc
Pour in about a tablespoon (15ml) of pasta water and some salt and pepper
Stir these together
If the pasta is a little too sticky, then pour in a little more water until you have the consistency you like
Serve with lots of cheese!

Storage/further meals

As you have used a good amount of pasta water, you shouldn’t have a solid lump of pasta in the bottom of a serving bowl/saucepan
Place any leftovers in a lidded container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days
Reheat in microwave or in a pan using a little water/chicken stock, or use a lot of chicken stock to make this the starter for a lovely chicken noodle soup with a chicken stock cube/fresh if you’re so inclined
Or a pasta and peas

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