Marathon Pasta, or Vermouth Pasta as it is also known, is a family classic. My grandfather was a marathon runner; a veteran of many London Marathons and others in the 1980s and 1990s (he only started running in his late fourties) with a personal best time in the order of 3 hours 15 minutes. He swears blind that this carbohydrate loading recipe always helped him; I’ve since done it for myself and my friends the night before 10k runs, half marathons, marathons and/or other ridiculous physical challenges and it has never failed to help rack up a personal best as a result.

The quantities are really as you deem fit (mainly as it has been passed down through the generations and the main theme is that you sort of make it up as you go along depending on what you may or may not have a glut of – my grandmother never weighed anything out unless she was baking). If you really want a guide for a batch of Marathon Pasta though, then about 600g pasta, one onion, 3 cloves of garlic, a big handful of mushrooms, 4-5 rashers of streaky bacon, 100g of cheese and one carton (400g of passata) and a good gulg of Vermouth should do 4 people.

  • Passata (or chopped or creamed tomatoes),
  • Pasta (whatever shape you fancy, I always remember grandma using tricolour spirals),
  • Mushrooms (lots of, chopped but left chunky),
  • onions & (a not ungenerous portion of) garlic (finely chopped),
  • streaky bacon (preferably smoked, fat left on, and diced),
  • Red Vermouth,
  • An egg,
  • cheese (mature, grated) and more for serving
  1. Cook your pasta according to packet instructions and set aside.
  2. Fry off the bacon, onion, mushrooms and garlic until cooked in a little oil; most of the cooking fat comes from the bacon. Set aside, fat included.
  3. Deglaze the pan with a good deal of Red Vermouth. Once the alcohol is boiled off, you should be able to smell the Vermouth fairly strongly (that’s how you know you used enough)
  4. Add back the onion/bacon etc mix. Coat it in the Vermouth.
  5. Add the passata until you get a fairly loose sauce, keep over a moderate heat.
  6. Beat an egg and add this to the sauce. Stir it in well.
  7. Add in a “grate deal” of cheese. The idea is to get a thick tomatoey sauce of Bolognese consistency
  8. Add in the pasta, stir through and serve with grated cheese on top.


Marathon Pasta