Try your hand at this delicious seafood pasta dish which is given a burst of flavour with plenty of tomato, prawns and garlic
“France has been, in a way, my second country, and I never really wrote about it,” Claudia Roden admitted in an interview with The Guardian last year. Yet the esteemed cookbook writer has owned a Parisian studio for over thirty years and is widely credited with changing our attitudes towards the food of the Mediterranean and the Levant.
Her latest offering, Med, is a culinary ode to the coastal countries that have so inspired her over the decades – and there’s plenty of French influences to be seen. This delightful seafood spaghetti dish melds tomato, garlic and prawn flavours to create a fuss-free supper that will transport you to the sun-soaked seashore with every mouthful.
“There are many versions of pasta with seafood around the Mediterranean sea,” says Roden in Med. “When, for a Sunday paper, I asked Italian celebrities what their favourite pasta dish was, most said ‘ai frutti di mare’ and that it was their own recipe. I tried them and loved them all. But for my favourite, I cook the pasta a Catalan way in boiling fish stock (it adds a surprise layer of flavour) and serve with a sauce from the Côte d’Azur. My grandson Cesar, a pasta man, adds a lot of chilli. I sometimes add other seafood, such as squid or shellfish.”
500g ripe tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
200ml dry white wine
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
1–2 tsp sugar
good pinch of chilli pepper
500g raw peeled king prawns
2 fish stockpots
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Quarter the tomatoes, and remove the little white hard bits at the stem end. Blend them to a creamy consistency in a food processor.
In a wide pan, over low heat, fry the onion in the olive oil, stirring often, until it is very soft. Add the garlic, and when it begins to colour, add the blended tomatoes and the wine, thyme, sugar, chilli and some salt. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and aromatic. Add the prawns and cook for 1 minute more until they turn pink.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the fish stockpots and some salt (not too much salt as the stockpots are already salty) and stir to dissolve them. Put in the spaghetti and cook until al dente, then drain.
Serve the pasta with the sauce poured over, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkling of parsley.
Reprinted with kind permission from Med by Claudia Roden (£28, Ebury Press).