Help 4 Hospitality presents Jacob Kenedy in “Plaquemine Lockdown”
PASTA GRATINATA WITH PRAWNS (& ASPARAGUS)
This dish is a heresy – seafood with cheese – and a delight. It’s a riff on a classic from Da Fiore, possibly Venice’s finest restaurant, and where I first really fell in love with Italian wine (funnily enough, a rather internationally styled Chardonnay from Castello di Ama the first time, and then om subsequent visits Soave from Gini and not-Soave from Anselmi). You can make this at any time of year – just choose a vegetable that suits the mood. It is best in my opinion with one vegetable and one herb – never more than one of each, but you can of course omit either.
Serves 2-3 as a main (4-6 as a starter). Quantities can be halved if it’s dinner for one.
- 50g butter (or oil)
- ½ a smallish red onion or 1 shallot, thinly sliced (optional)
- A vegetable (optional)*
- A herb (optional)**
- 200g peeled prawn*** tails
- A dash (60ml) white or rosé wine (optional)
- 2 big handfuls leftover cooked pasta (or 120g dried pasta or 150g fresh, cooked al dente – tagliolini are best)
- 200ml cream, double is best
- 4 tablespoons grated cheese (parmesan or similar, optional)
Preheat the grill
- Melt the butter over a medium heat
- Add the onion and a pinch of salt and fry for a few moments,
- Add the vegetable and gently sauté until just warmed through. If using a mountain herb, add it at the same time
- Add the prawns, then the white wine and let it boil for a moment until most of the liquid has evaporated
- Add the cream to the sauce, bring to a boil
- Add the pasta (and herb, if using an annual one) and cook for a minute, until the pasta is warm through and the cream starting to coat it (still a tad on the runny side – it will continue to thicken under the grill)
- Transfer to a suitable dish, to make an even layer 1-2cm thick
- Sprinkle with parmesan and brown the top, under the grill
- Serve immediately
* The vegetable can be 1 bunch (250g) asparagus, sliced on the bias 1cm (or a handful of podded peas or broad beans (blanched), or an artichoke (cleaned and thinly sliced), or a handful of wild garlic leaves (cut 2cm), or a handful of samphire or a courgette (julienne), or a small radicchio (shredded), or wild mushrooms (brushed clean & chunked), or 8 courgette flowers (added later, with the pasta), or…
** One herb – a mountain herb (fresh chopped rosemary or picked oregano or thyme) or an annual one (basil or chives or tarragon or fennel tops or parsley) – but just one.
*** 200g raw peeled prawns – halve them if they are big, or the meat from 500g frozen shell-on cooked Atlantic prawns. You could also, if you prefer, use the picked meat from 500g mussels or clams, steamed open in a dry pan, or 200g picked crab or lobster meat, or even smoked salmon or mackerel.