Thursday, 23 May 2013

Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare - Seafood Spaghetti

Spaghetti with Seafood

Pasta and seafood is one of the great combinations. A particular favourite has to be spaghetti with clams and/or mussels and a few cherry tomatoes. The drawback is that it takes time to clean those pesky molluscs what with removing their little beards, checking they're all ok, eliminating any residual sand... Frankly, it's not really how I want to spend my evenings after getting back from work. 

This then is what I turn to on those occasions when I'm completely out of time and inspiration, yet in need of real food with flavour. We call it a ragu di pesce but that isn't really accurate and makes it sound much grander than it really is - simply mixed seafood, chopped quite finely and sauteed with fresh tomatoes, a little garlic and white wine. I keep bags of the seafood mix (mussels, squid and prawns, all ready prepared) in the freezer, so that I can make this at short notice, after having picked up the fresh tomatoes and parsley on my way home. 

It goes without saying that parmesan is never served with any kind of fish. GL and I do however grind over vicious amounts of black pepper just before eating. 

This post is making its way over to one of my favourite challenges, Herbs on Saturday, created by Karen from the wonderful Lavender and Lovage and hosted this month by Anneli from Délicieux.

Herbs on Saturday

RECIPE - serves 3-4

350g spaghetti
350g ready prepared mixed seafood
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dry white wine
100g cherry tomatoes
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
extra virgin olive oil
a good handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Cook the pasta according to instructions, making sure you've salted the water well - it really does make all the difference. 

While the pasta is cooking, finely chop the seafood and slice the tomatoes into quarters. Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the crushed garlic. After just a few seconds add the seafood, tomatoes, chilli and white wine. Cook for about 2 minutes over a medium heat - it really doesn't need any longer than this because the seafood is already cooked, it just needs to heat through. Add most of the parsley (keep a little back to sprinkle over just before serving), season with salt and pepper and give it all a good stir. 

When the pasta is al dente, drain well and mix with the seafood sauce. To serve, drizzle over a little olive oil, top with the rest of the parsley and some ground black pepper. 

Seafood Spaghetti

Monday, 13 May 2013

Warm Asparagus Salad with Prosciutto and Parmesan

Asparagus, Prosciutto and Parmesan Salad

It is a surprising thing for me to write but I think it's true when people say that you can have too much of a good thing. Our long weekend in Paris last week proved this point rather well. It was wonderful. I mean, it was Paris in spring time and you can't really get much better than that. Under blue skies, we walked and ate crêpes, we walked and stopped for coffee and pâtisserie, we walked and ate Ladurée macaroons, we walked and .... well, you get the idea. There was a lot of walking, a lot of rich food and oh yes, there was wine too.

Les Jardins des Tuileries, May 2013

It was a perfect weekend but it did have the effect of  leaving me longing for some lighter meals and salads, something with crisp green vegetables and refreshing flavours. This warm asparagus dish seemed appropriate. The spears are not boiled but chargrilled on a ridged pan which gives an intense smoky flavour that I love. Combined with the sweet prosciutto and salty parmesan, it makes a delicious spring starter or the ideal lunch after a weekend of  gluttonous excess.

I'm linking this up to two blogging challenges. The first is the One Ingredient Challenge run by Laura (this month's host) from How to Cook Good Food and Nazima from Franglais Kitchen. Their theme for May is Asparagus and as I love it, I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's ideas.

One Ingredient

The other is Ren Behan's Simple and In Season Challenge, another blog event that encourages us all to use local, fresh, seasonal produce.

Simple and in Season

RECIPE - serves 2

250g asparagus  
4 slices prosciutto
about 30g fresh parmesan
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Wash the asparagus and snap off the tough, woody ends - they usually break naturally. You can trim them with a knife if you prefer to have all the spears the same length. Drizzle the spears with a little olive oil and place them on a very hot ridged pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on one side so they get nice grill lines and then turn them over using tongs. Cook for about the same amount of time on the other side.

Divide the asparagus between two plates and drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Tear the prosciutto into thin strips and drape over the asparagus. Use a potato peeler to make shavings of parmesan and let it fall naturally over the other ingredients. 

Drizzle over some more olive oil and serve while the asparagus is still warm. 

Warm Asparagus Salad