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A quick meal that’s sure to impress? Wow your dinner guests with Chef Nico’s Seafood Pasta in less than 15 minutes.
If you take a moment to cast your mind back to carefree (possibly child-free) holidays spent strolling the waterfront, allowing the gentle lapping of the water against the sides of the moored boats rhythmically nudge your breath, your heart rate and in turn your mood into holiday mode. If you imagine the salty tang of the air, the soaring squawks of the seagulls and the springy ease the time-weathered boardwalk affords your step. If you extend your memory to the bountiful plates of spaghetti marinara, clams and mussels merrily tangled in the noodles, crusty bread, and ambience-enhanced white wine you had then, we are sure, that this act of imagining alone has slowed your temperament and made you smile, if only for mere moments before the hustle-bustle comes crashing back in.
Mind-travel alone can bring the happy holiday vibes back, so imagine the effects of actually engaging in one of the artefacts from that fondly remembered (or desired!) trip with a steaming bowl of shrimp pasta in our own home. In your recollection, the recipe may have been a marinara or a cream sauce, the offerings from the deep may have been shrimps and scallops, lobster or langoustine, squid, octopus, fish or any medley, you may have dined outside or in.
Proximity aside, pasta dishes with a seafood sauce are so popular in these holiday destinations because they are quick and easy. Throw some beautiful fresh ingredients into a simple sauce, serve it up and then turn the table ready for the next holiday-makers. This works for us at home too. Same great ingredients, same simple sauce and dinner is done with minimum fuss! In 30 minutes, you can cook, eat, AND do the washing up! Allow Chef Nico to bring his holiday dream meal to the plate, and show you step-by-step how to cook Seafood Pasta.
200g shelled prawns
250g of egg angel hair pasta or another long thin egg pasta
2-3 tbsps standard (not fancy!) salt
40g olive oil
2-3 shallots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
60g (most of a tube) basil puree
Sea salt and pepper
1 glass white wine
400g tomato sugo
1 lemon cut into 4
1 bunch basil, just smallest leaves carefully picked
Your best, pepper extra virgin olive oil
The day before, move the prawns and scallops from the freezer to the fridge. Simple as that.
Release the shrimp from their packaging, season them with sea salt flakes crumbled between your fingers (about as much as you can pick up between three fingers) and a good cracking of freshly ground black pepper. Mix together with the basil puree, stir well to coat every shrimp, or massage with your hands to really get stuck in. Pop them back in the fridge.
Put a large pot of hot tap water on the stove, stir in a heaped tablespoon of basic salt. When it’s dissolved, taste the water. It should taste like the sea. If it’s still not intently salty, like the sea, add more salt and taste again. You’ll be amazed at how much salt you need to put in. The vast majority of that salt goes down the drain with the water, but if you don’t add enough, your pasta will be bland. Set the water over a high flame and bring it to a vigorous, rolling boil.
In a high sided frying pan heat the olive oil over medium heat add teh shallots and stir until translucent, but not golden. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant. Take care not to burn any of these aromats or they’ll impart a bitter character to your sauce. Add the wine, bring to the boil to burn off the alcohol and reduce slightly then add the sugo, turn to low and let it blip away while you get on with the other tasks. Set another small frying pan over medium heat.
Take a deep breath, it’s all about to happen. Plunge the pasta into the boiling water and give it a good stir. Put the prawns and mussels into the sauce, give them a stir. In 3 - 4 minutes in the sauce the mussels will warm up and the prawns will cook. Put the butter in the small pan, sprinkle crushes sea salt flakes and ground pepper onto the scallops and when the butter is melted add them to the pan. Cook the scallops for a minute either side then remove to a warm plate and pour the butter over the top.
For angel hair, the cook time is usually no more than 3 minutes. After 2 minutes boiling, use a mug to scoop some pasta water out of the pot, then pour the pasta into a colander then tip it straight into the sauce. At this stage the pasta should be 80% cooked, the last part of the cooking happens in the sauce where it will also absorb all the tomatoey goodness. Toss everything together then assess the consistency of the sauce. It should coat the noodles evenly, but not be too sticky, add a little of the pasta water if you think it’s warranted.
Lift tong-fulls of pasta into wide bowls and divide the seafood fairly. Add two scallops to the top of each pile and garnish with the little basil leaves, lemon wedge and a generous drizzle of your very best, peppery olive oil.