For a more grown-up affair – or younger taste buds permitting – you can include a couple of chopped chillies or a tiny pinch of chilli flakes with the garlic-infused olive oil.


  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • large handful of each mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley and basil) leaves torn
  • a pinch of salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to serve


  • STEP 1

    First of all, you need to begin cooking the spaghetti. Supervise the children as they bring a big saucepan of water to boil and add the salt, then show them how to drop in the spaghetti without making too much of a splash. Cook for about two minutes if you have made fresh pasta, or according to the instructions on the packet if using dried pasta.

  • STEP 2

    While the spaghetti is cooking, wash the lemon and grate the zest. It’s always best to supervise children when they are grating foods, so you can keep an eye out for little fingers. Avoid grating any of the white pith that lies beneath the coloured skin of the fruit, as this is bitter.

  • STEP 3

    Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Peel the garlic cloves. Here’s a tip for easy peeling: put the clove flat on a chopping board and take a wide, blunt knife and place it, flat-side down, on top of the clove and push down hard with your hand. This loosens the skin and makes peeling easier. Add the cloves, along with chilli, if using, and leave to infuse the oil for 3–4 minutes.

  • STEP 4

    Fish the garlic out of the oil with a slotted spoon. Children can check if the spaghetti is al dente (soft but not soggy) – take a strand from the water and let her blow on it until it’s cool, so she can take a bite. Drain the pasta and toss with the garlic-infused oil, the lemon zest and the herbs. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan.

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Adapted from Cooking Italian With Kids by Liz Franklin (Ryland Peters & Small)