Whether you call this crustacean a shrimp or a prawn, what we can all agree on is that you must – if at all possible – make a stock with the heads & shells. I first had this seafood pasta dish on honeymoon on the Italian island of Ponza, a favourite Mediterranean getaway for Romans seeking respite from the capital’s summer inferno. Delicious Italian seafood dishes top the menus of eateries across the island. What ensures that this seemingly simple dish evokes the sea is the rich prawn stock, layered with the other flavours, all unified at the end by finishing the linguine in the seafood sauce. For an extra sumptuous seafood pasta dish use butter as well as oil to make the stock, and add a glug of wine when simmering tomatoes. You could also sieve the tomatoes before cooking for a smoother texture. I have been generous with the serving size. The depth of flavour is incredibly moreish, so you should make plenty. It’s also advisable to have some nice bread on standby. However full you may be, you will likely still feel an overwhelming need to mop up any excess sauce.
Linguine al gamberi recipe
Serves 4 INGREDIENTS:
- 500g linguine
- 800g large raw prawns/shrimp, shelled & deveined (retain heads & shells for stock)
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- 1-2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- 500g sweet cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Stock (see below)
- Juice & zest of 2 lemons
- Large handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Glass white wine (optional)
- Olive oil
- Prawn heads & shells
- Large glass white wine
- 250 ml water
- Salt & pepper
- 50g butter (optional)
- In a large saucepan on a medium heat, fry prawn heads & shells in generous glug of olive oil. When pink, add white wine. After a few minutes when alcohol has evaporated, add equal amount of water and simmer for approx 10 minutes. Crush heads & shells while cooking to release as much flavour as possible. Top up water if necessary, and season to taste. Strain and retain stock.
- In a large wide bottomed pan, fry shallot on a medium heat. After 5 minutes, add garlic & chilli and cook for a few more minutes. Add tomatoes and gently simmer for at least 15 minutes, gradually adding strained stock.
- Cook linguine in salted water (allegedly should be as salty as the Mediterranean) to about a minute or 2 less than packet instructions. If sauce gets too thick during pasta cooking, add some of the linguine water, tbsp at a time. Retain a cup of water before draining for same reason.
- Add prawns to sauce – for larger prawns cook for couple of minutes.
- Drain and stir in the linguine, add lemon zest, season to taste, and cook for further couple of minutes until pasta is al dente. Loosen sauce with some retained pasta water if necessary.
- Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat. Cover and leave for five minutes. Pasta will absorb even more flavour from the sauce, but without cooking further.
- Add parsley, and serve the sumptuous seafood pasta in warmed pasta bowls.