The summer is nearly here (though you wouldn’t know it with the rain we’ve had in the past fortnight!) so we have a gear shift when we have pasta. Gone are the heavier, richer tomato sauces and in come much lighter, fresher sauces and dressings – or even just a drizzle of good oil instead. When we do use tomatoes in the summer, they tend just to be the sweet, baby variety squished into the pan near the end of cooking so they stay fresh. But, for a nice change, we thought we’d do just oil and a few herbs for this dish.
This recipe will stand up equally well to lobster if you’re feeling flush, mussels or clams if you’re not, or even a few chunks of good chorizo. It’s about the simplest pasta meal you can make and takes just a few minutes preparation as well as the cooking time for the pasta, of course.
On that note, when you’re buying pasta it makes sense to spend a little more and choose a good one, for instance, one that’s been made through a bronze die. Think about it this way: even if it is an extra pound for a pack, it still only equates to 20p or so per serving but makes a difference to the amount of sauce (and therefore flavour) that can cling to it. You’ll find the cheapest ‘bulk’ made pasta is so smooth and slippery that by the time it reaches your mouth much of the flavour has slipped clean off it!
Ingredients (serves 2)
- handful of dried linguine or spaghetti (around 90g per person)
- 10-12, raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
- some chopped chorizo or pancetta
- 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
- 1 shallot or red onion, finely chopped
- handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp Smoked Chilli Oil
- 2 lemon wedges
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a strong rolling boil and add the pasta. Stir and then leave on full boil until al-dente, usually around 12 minutes. (Oh, and ignore any desire to add a splash of oil to the water as it serves no useful purpose whatsoever!)
- In the meantime, add 1/2 tbsp of Smoked Chilli Oil to a frying pan and fry the chorizo or pancetta (more oil will come out of them so you just need a touch to start them off)
- After a few minutes, add the onions and continue to gently fry for another few minutes – you’re not trying to colour them, just soften them.
- Tip this mixture into a bowl, put the pan back on the heat and turn it up – add the prawns and leave for 2 minutes before turning over – once they go pink, they’re cooked. Squeeze over the lemon wedges in the last few seconds of cooking
- Turn OFF the heat, add the sliced garlic, the reserved onion and pancetta mixture and most of the chopped parsley and toss well to mix
- Drain the pasta when al dente but don’t leave it to steam dry or it will stick together – as soon as most of the water has drained through but whilst the pasta is still ‘wet’, throw it into the pan with everything else
- Drizzle over the rest of the Smoked Chilli Oil together with the remaining parsley and give a final mix – serve immediately
This is the basis for many a simple recipe and works well using scallops, clams, mussels – in fact, almost anything you have handy. You can even throw a few finely sliced sugar snap peas in at the end as well to give a nice freshness – so feel free to experiment and mix it up a bit!