Spaghetti con cozze e gamberi (with mussels and prawns)
This is the pasta dish that is on every menu in those little Italian cafés that are right on the beach in Italy. It tastes phenomenal.
Read through the recipe a couple of times, line up your ingredients and pans because once you start to cook, it’s fast! Though, you do get your food on the table and start eating quickly.
A green lettuce salad and some wine to go with this recipe is all you need to make a perfect meal.
Miraculous ingredients: fresh Scottish mussels, raw shell on prawns, baby plum tomatoes (M&S sells the Santini variety, it's the best), good quality spaghetti (Giuseppe Cocco)
Spaghetti con cozze e gamberi (with mussels and prawns
A net of fresh mussels aprox. 1kg
6 very large raw prawns in their shells (10 medium size raw prawns in their shells)
¾ glass of white wine
5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
150g Baby plum tomatoes cut in quarters
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ fresh red birds eye chilli, finely chopped or ¼ teaspoon of dry red chilli flakes
15g fresh parsley, finely chopped
350g spaghetti (Giuseppe Cocco brand is good)
Remove the little beards from each mussel by pulling hard, wash the mussels under cold running water and put them in a large sauce pan. Pour in ½ glass of white wine (leave the remaining ¼ glass for the prawns) and put the lid on. Place the sauce pan on a medium heat and cook for approximately 5 minutes. During the cooking time turn the mussels with a wooden spoon, so the mussels at the top of the pan move to the bottom and are in contact with the heat.
The mussels will be done when all the shells are fully open and the mussel meat has come away from the sides of the shell to form plump little ovals. Turn the heat off.
Lift the mussels out of the pan with a slotted spoon into a bowl and leave to one side to cool. Pour the mussel liquor from the sauce pan into measuring jug and leave to one side to settle. This step is important. Any 'grit' from the mussels will float to the bottom of the jug so when you use the liquor to finish cooking the pasta you can make sure the 'grit' doesn't end you in your final dish.
When the mussels are cool, pull the mussel meat out of each shell and place in another bowl. If the mussels are very large, snip them in two with a pair of kitchen scissors to make bite size pieces.
Put a large frying pan on a low heat to warm. Add 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the pan and fry the minced garlic and chilli for about 20 seconds. Add the quartered baby plum tomatoes and stir. Increase the heat to high to start breaking down the tomatoes and release their juices. Stir and press down on the tomatoes with a wooden spatula to hurry the cooking along. Add the chopped parsley, stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
Add the raw prawns to the frying pan and ¼ cup of white wine. Turn the heat to medium and cook for approximately 5 minutes (depending on the size of your prawns), turning the prawns during this time so they cook on both sides. The prawns are cooked when they turn from grey to pink. Don’t be tempted to over cook as the prawn meat will become tough.
Next, carefully pour the mussel liquor into the pan with the prawns without adding the sediment from the bottom. Gently warm while you are waiting for the spaghetti to cook.
Place a large pan that can hold a good 3 litres of water onto a high heat. When the water starts to boil add a teaspoon of salt and all the spaghetti. Set the timer to cook the spaghetti for only ¾ of its cooking time (6 mins instead of 9 mins for the brand I use). The spaghetti will finish cooking in the reserved mussel liquor to give it even more flavour.
When the timer for the spaghetti goes off after ¾ of the cooking time has elapsed, add all the spaghetti to the large frying pan of prawns, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and chilli. The mussel liquor should just cover all the spaghetti. If there is not enough mussel liquor, add some of the pasta water. Stir everything together.
Place the lid on the frying pan, turn the heat down to low and carry on cooking for another few minutes until the spaghetti is al dente (soft on the outside but slightly hard in the middle). When the pasta is al dente, turn the heat off, add all the mussels, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, stir thoroughly and serve.
Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking 20 minutes, 2 adult portions, 2 children portions