Jamie Oliver is one of my favourite TV chefs - I loved his "cheeky chappy" persona back in his younger days, and I have enjoyed watching him become a rounded individual who seems to care for the wider community and does what he can to improve lives through teaching cooking skills.
I own most of his books, including Cook with Jamie, which I would probably rate as my favourite. There are terrific categories of recipes which allow you to choose pasta, meat, fish, vegetables and desserts. I particularly like Jools Favourite Sunday Afternoon Pasta and his roasted chicken breast variations (especially with the lemon Bombay potatoes!).
However, not everything that I have made from this book has taken my fancy. For example, I found that the Fifteen Chocolate Brownies didn't really set properly (perhaps they were supposed to be gooey? For the record, my work colleagues loved them).
In the latter category is Jamie's Lovely Crab Linguine, which in my hands, became Salmon Spaghetti. Crabmeat is hideously expensive at present, tinned or fresh, and I couldn't justify the cost when the object was to save money on work lunches by bringing lunch from home.
I am not sure whether the flavour of the salmon, which is stronger than crabmeat, simply overpowered the other flavours (fennel, chilli, lemon), or whether this just wasn't my thing, but this didn't grab me at all. I also left out the fennel seeds and most of the 140ml of oil (which would have made the pasta soooooo much more calorific) - perhaps this had a strong influence. Unfortunately, I just felt that this dish did not have enough "oomph" - I would have much preferred a rich, tomato based pasta. However, to be fair, Jamie says that in its guise as crab linguine with all the ingredients, it is a favourite at his Fifteen restaurants.
To make my lower cal, lower budget version of this dish, you will need:
2 chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 fennel bulb, shaved into pieces with a vegetable peeler
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g dried spaghetti
400g tin of salmon
salt and pepper to taste
Put the chilli, fennel, lemon juice and zest and salmon in a heatproof bowl, season with salt and pepper, and heat over a saucepan of water which is brought to the boil. Carefully test the meat with your finger to feel when it is heated through, then remove from the heat.
Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions, and drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the salmon mixture through the spaghetti, adding extra lemon juice or reserved cooking water to loosen the pasta, if necessary. Decorate the top of the spaghetti with the herby tops off the fennel bulb, and serve immediately.
Unfortunately, I can only describe my attempt at this dish as "meh", even though it looks pretty. If you have tried Jamie's original, I'd love to hear what you thought. However, I can't say that I will make this again - and I have 5 more serves to eat. I can see myself ditching the "cut lunch" for a good old spud with ham and cheese from Toowong ...
Postscript: I rescued this dish by adding sweet chilli sauce to it - it was much better that way, though I am unlikely to make it again.