Mission 15 on The Bucket List is ‘cook more, eat out less.’ Mission 15 and a half is to share my cooking adventures with you more on the blog, so here’s a little something I prepared earlier.
Pasta, my love.
This is some dried spaghetti I brought back from Italy last year. What’s special is that unlike most pasta you could get in your local supermarket, you know everything about this pasta. It was produced in a small town in Naples, Gragnano; is made from pure durum wheat as all Italian made pasta must be; and has been cut traditionally on a bronze die. You see ‘Trafilata in Bronzo‘ means bronze drawn.
This traditional method of cutting dried pasta hails from Italy and gives pasta a rougher surface to the yellow shiny strands we’re more used to seeing in our supermarkets. Pairing pasta shapes to sauces is important, but the rougher surface of bronze cut pasta means no matter what sauce you go for, it will cling to each strand. This is an on the spot Harleigh-made recipe, so there’s no traditionally Neapolitan sauce this time.
Raiding the fridge and freezer I found my favourite combination: chilli, garlic and prawn. This recipe served one… one very hungry Harleigh. Portion your pasta for as many people as you’d like and allow around 6-10 prawns each depending on their size (the prawn’s size, not the person’s).
100g bronze cut spaghetti (regular spaghetti will do the trick of course, but I found some bronze cut in Tesco)
1 tsp good quality olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 fresh chilli, seeds removed and chopped finely
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 raw prawns
a handful of spinach
freshly ground black pepper – optional but highly recommended
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add your spaghetti. Cook as instructed – I find 9-12 minutes is the norm.
In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil on a low heat and add the tomatoes. Add the chilli, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and 1 clove of chopped garlic to the pan. Fry for around 5 minutes until the tomatoes bruise and release their juice, and the garlic is sizzling and fragrant.
I used a small pan with high sides so the liquid from the tomatoes and pasta stock would be high enough to cover the prawns once added. I love garlic, so added a roughly chopped clove to the mix so I could later enjoy the flavour when biting into chunkier pieces. If you’re more of a vampire, crush them all!
In the final minute of the pasta cooking, pour two ladles of the boiling water into your tomato saucepan. Bring the small saucepan to the boil whilst you drain the pasta. Add the prawns to the boiling sauce mix, submerge and cook for 2 minutes. Mix and lay the spinach over the sauce and leave for a further 2 minutes. I don’t mix the spinach into the sauce as I try to hold the bite of it as long as possible, but like it slightly steamed. I also like to think of the spinach forming a little lid over the sauce keeping the steam on any protruding prawn tails.
Do not put oil on your cooked pasta when using a sauce, it reduces the absorption of the pasta and makes it more likely your sauces will sit at the bottom of the bowl after sliding off the strands. I usually put olive oil on tortellini as I don’t use a sauce and instead douse it with balsamic glaze.
Sauce to pasta or pasta to sauce? It depends. I don’t know. In this case it was sauce to pasta as the sauce pan was much too small.
The spinach then gets only a quick blast in liquid as the boiling sauce mixes everything in with the spaghetti. A sprinkle of black pepper and you are good to go.
How simple right?
FOR THE LOVE OF PASTA, TRY THIS!