This is a recipe i’ve been fine tuning over the last few weeks. Its not completely original; i’m sure there are quite a few recipes that have inspired this in one way or another. However, this is how i do it, and its not too bad in the health stakes (could be made more healthily, very easily), and isn’t too bad in the financial stakes either.

I should add that if you don’t like french or italian foods very much then you probably won’t like this, i also put a lot of garlic and chilli in, as we both like garlic and heat. If you’re used to very obvious sauces then this won’t look like much: rest assured, though, that when you dump the cooked pasta in the pan and swirl it through the juices that are there, it soaks up all that lovely flavour and then its just a case of finding the bits of prawn to add to each mouthful of pasta twirled onto the fork. I also only put prawns and chopped crabstick into this, in the interests of saving money. If you had other seafood you wanted to add, say, mussels or lobster pieces, then the recipe could be very easily adapted.

Seafood pasta

Ingredients:
1 onion, finely sliced / quarter red bell pepper, finely sliced / quarter green red bell pepper, finely sliced / quarter yellow or orange bell pepper, finely sliced / handful or so of cooked peeled (i.e. pink) prawns / 6 crabsticks, unrolled and finely sliced / finely chopped flat leaf parsley or shredded rocket / handful or so of peas / half teaspoon dried chilli flakes (less if you don’t like heat) /  2 garlic cloves (less if you don’t like garlic), finely chopped / wodge of butter / sludge of olive oil / slug of white wine / wholewheat spaghetti pasta / seasoning / 1tsp cornflour in a quarter cup or so of cold water / lemon juice

Method:

  1. prepare all the veg and seafood. Put the wodge of butter and slug of olive oil into a pan – just enough butter/oil to cover the base of the pan, at this point (the oil is to stop the butter from burning). You could use frylight or some other low fat equivalent if you wished, i like the extra taste butter gives. melt the butter, and when its foaming, tip the finely sliced onions into the pan.
  2. let the onions cook until translucent, then add the garlic, stirring, and leave for a few minutes, watching like a hawk to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn (can’t tell you how many times i’ve done that.. and i hate it – burnt garlic is dreadfully bitter). Then tip in your bell pepper slices and stir, letting them cook through for another few minutes.
  3. Add the prawns and crabsticks, stir well, then add the dried chilli flakes. At this point, you can, if you wish, add another wodge of butter for flavour, or just go straight to the wine, or even just go for a little water. you don’t want the stuff swimming in water though. once the prawns have heated through (not very long, although this will depend if you’ve added them frozen or defrosted, obviously if frozen, allow the few extra minutes) add the peas, then add a good slug or two of wine – just enough to almost cover the veg/prawns/crabsticks – and put the lid on, leave to cook for a few minutes.
  4. Check, taste for seasoning.. you may, if using water (instead of butter/wine) choose to add a teaspoon of a suitable stock powder like marigold’s boullion, just to up the flavour stakes a little. add pepper if you like it peppery, i do, but bear in mind if you’re using parsley that parsley has a peppery flavour all its own. At this point, fill and turn on the kettle to boil water for the spaghetti. make sure to turn the heat down to the lowest possible on the seafood sauce and put the lid on!

    before the spaghetti is added

    before the spaghetti is added

  5. cook the spaghetti. Once the spaghetti has been cooking for 10 minutes or so, if you need a little extra liquid in your seafood sauce, you can take a little of the cooking water from the pasta – this is an old trick, as the water will have starch in it from the pasta and will help to thicken the sauce a lil. Do watch out if you’ve salted the pasta cooking water – taste before you add salt!
  6. right before the spaghetti is done cooking, evaluate the liquid remaining in your seafood sauce, and if necessary, add a little extra. You don’t need a lot of liquid though, just enough that its coming about half way up the prawns/veg mix – if you have too much liquid, then the flavour will be diluted. Stir your cornflour/coldwater mix, and pour half into the seafood sauce, and stir, till its thickened. Assess whether its thickened enough for your taste. you want it thick enough that its not a very watery liquid, but not so thick that its wallpaper paste. find a medium you like, that will coat spaghetti. if you go too thick, add more wine/water.
  7. taste, add some lemon juice to cut through the richness of the wine/butter and to add a little pizzazz to the seafood (seafood and lemon is one of those marriages made in heaven). add 70% of the chopped parsley – you don’t need a lot, about half a handful – and stir in. turn the heat out at this point, but as soon as you’re done stirring, pop the lid back on to keep the sauce warm.
  8. The pasta probably needs to cook for around 12-15 minutes. Although pasta is a personal taste, i think al dente is best for this recipe. you certainly don’t want it cooked so much that its rubbery and sticks together. drain your pasta. as soon as the majority of the water has been shaken off, dump the spaghetti straight into the pan with the sauce in and swirl the spaghetti in the sauce. i find a pair of BBQ tongs is ideal for this, you can pick wodges of spaghetti up and flip them, or scoop up the prawns/veg and stir them into the spaghetti. Also useful for getting long strands into a bowl! Anyway. put the spaghetti into bowls, pour the remaining sauce/prawns/veg ontop, then sprinkle the top with a little more finely chopped parsley. serve and enjoy 🙂

This amount serves 2. If you choose to use rocket instead of finely chopped parsley, shred the rocket leaves – you want them long and thin – and put into the pan ontop of the spaghetti right after you’ve dumped it into the seafood sauce. Just allow the heat of the spaghetti to wilt the rocket.

Note on Finances for those in the UK:
Iceland do packs of cooked peeled small prawns for £2, or most supermarkets will do bags of frozen prawns for between £3-4, which will do about three lots of this recipe. spaghetti is still, at the time of writing, one of the cheaper forms of pasta, and wholewheat pasta is healthier than white pasta. I buy a pack (500g) of it from tescos for 64p; it does about 3 meals worth as well.

I buy a pack of crabsticks from Aldi for 89p; this contains 15 crabsticks. I use 6 for this; the other 9 i either use in another night of this dish or i make up a seafood mayo for sandwiches: mayo mixed with tomato ketchup, lots of pepper, lemon juice, some chopped hard boiled egg, defrosted prawns and chopped crabstick – this is lovely in sandwiches with iceberg lettuce, and is very similar to the seafood sandwiches you can buy in supermarkets.

This dish probably costs somewhere around £3, making it £1.50 a portion. Its not the cheapest ever dish, but given that it has seafood and wine in.. it could be much more expensive, and its certainly worth it. It also doesn’t need a lot of wine, nor terribly good wine – i tend to buy the cheapest plonk i can find and keep that in the fridge purely for cooking with. Additionally, if you grow your own rocket or parsley then that makes this dish even cheaper 🙂

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