Spaghetti al cartoccio (in a package)

puglia crestFrom Puglia. This dish looks fairly impressive, but is in fact quite easy to do. Spaghetti or linguine is mixed with seafood, and baked in the oven. The pasta absorbs the flavours from the seafood and the sauce is concentrated wonderfully. I had this dish at a restaurant near here “Zia Teresa” in Torre a Mare a while back. They served it using foil packets, but some people use greaseproof paper. Make one large package, or as I prerfer, one package per person. The recipe is really just a guide. The seafood is different from chef to chef and from day to day, depending on what is available. Include some kind of mollusc, like mussels or clams, something from the squid family, like calamari or octopus and something from the prawn family like prawns, scampi and shrimps. Some people also include a little fish, about 200 g, such as red mullet, sea bream or bass. Serves 4.

  • 350 g spaghetti
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
  • 1 kg of fresh tomatoes
  • 200 g unpeeled raw prawns/shrimps
  • 350 g clams (vongole veraci)
  • 500 g mussels
  • 200 g baby octopus or baby squid
  • A large sprig of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 chillis (optional, use the chillis which you are used to. It is usually made quite mild here)
  • Dry white wine

Wash the mussels and clams under cold running water and pull the beards off. Put them into a large pan along with a clove of garlic, the parsley and half a glass of wine. Put on a high heat until all the shellfish are open. Remove  most of them from the shells (you leave a few whole for garnish, if you like)  and reserve the cooking liquid, strained if need be.

Blanch the tomatoes for a few seconds in boiling water, and then peel and deseed them. Roughly chop.

Heat about 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pan with the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. When they have browned, remove them from the oil. Add the octopus or squid, and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.

 

 

Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the cooking liquid from the shell-fish and the chopped chillis (leave them whole if you want to remove them at the end of cooking)  and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the unpeeled prawns and cook for a further 5 minutes. If you’d prefer to peel the prawns you can, but you’ll be losing quite a lot of flavour.

Cook the pasta about half the time recommended time on the packet. Drain and mix with the sauce.

Use a large square of kitchen foil, or 4 smaller ones for individual portions. Bring all 4 sides up and pinch together the corners, so you have a sort of foil “basket”. Fill each pouch with the pasta and fold over the top to close. Dont close them too tightly, leave some room. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°c for about 10 minutes.

Unwrap the package or packages at the table and have some finger bowls and napkins handy.

Bavette with clams and courgettes

Bavette alle vongole e zucchine. This is a nice alternative to the standard spaghetti alle vongole recipe. Serves 4.

  • 320g bavette
  • 800g clams
  • 1 shallot – finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic – peeled, whole
  • 1 chilli (fresh or dried) or to taste
  • 300g courgettes – cut into match sticks
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 200g tomatoes – peeled and diced
Bavette with clams and courgettes ingredients

Bavette with clams and courgettes ingredients

  1. Open the clams by  putting them in a dry pan over a high heat for about 5 minutes. Reserve any liquid that is produced.
  2. Remove the clams from their shells and put aside.
  3. Heat some oil in a pan and cook the shallot, chilli and garlic clove until softened.
  4. Remove and discard the garlic.
  5. Add the clams, courgettes and parsley and cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add the wine and the liquid from the clams and allow to reduce for a while.
  7. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook  until the sauce thickens – about 20-30 minutes.
  8. Cook the bavette until al dente, drain and add to the pan with the sauce and mix well.
Bavette with clams and courgettes finished dish

Bavette with clams and courgettes finished dish

Brindisi fish soup

Brindisi crestZuppa di pesce alla Brindisina. A couple of weeks ago I got together with a couple of friends in order to cook a fish ‘soup’ . Soup is a bit of a misnomer, as there isn’t really that much liquid involved. It was an all day project involving a trip to the fish market in the morning, lots of preparation in the afternoon (why are mussels so time consuming to clean? I’d happily eat them every day if I didn’t have to spend an age scraping and pulling off various unsavoury parts :-) ) and cooking and eating in the evening. I glad to say it was worth the effort. Serves 4

Fish soup ingredients

Fish soup ingredients

  • 600g scorpion fish (or any other firm white fish – we used hake), cleaned and definned.
  • 350g squid, cleaned and cut into pieces.
  • 150g cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into pieces.
  • 300g mussels, cleaned and debearded.
  • 200g clams, scrubbed
  • 300g tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped.
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped.
  • 1/2 glass olive oil
  • 4 slices stale bread
  1. Soften the onion and celery in a large pan. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the start to break down and form a sauce.
  2. Add the squid and cuttlefish and cook until they start to become tender – 10-20 minutes.
  3. Add the mussels, clams and chilli, stir and then lay the fish on top. Cover and cook over a low heat until the fish sarts to flake (check from time to time with a fork).
  4. To serve, place a slice of bread in the bottom of a bowl, sprinkle on a little garlic and parsley and spoon the soup on top.
fish soup finished dish

fish soup finished dish

Bavette with razor shell clams


Bavette con i cannolicchi. I came across these today in the fish market. I was at a loss what to do with them and in the end cooked them using the same recipe as vermicelli con le vongole. Very nice they were too :-)

bavette with razor shell clams

 

 bavette with razor shell clams finished dish

 

Risotto with clams

 

I had quite a few clams left over from the previous recipe, so I had a look around and came up with this recipe. It has very few ingredients, and allows the flavour of the clams to shine through.  Click here for the basic risotto method. Serves 6

risotto with clams ingredients

risotto with clams ingredients

  •   600 grams risotto rice
  •   2 kilograms clams — scrubbed
  •   2 tablespoons olive oil
  •   3 tablespoons butter
  •   3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  1. Put the clams into a saucepan and cover with water
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer until the clams open.
  3. Remove the clams and reserve the water.
  4. Remove the meat from the clams, reserving a few for decoration.
  5. Add the butter and oil to a frying pan and fry the clam meat and parsley for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the rice and stir fry until the rice starts to turn transparent
  7. Add a little of the cooking liquid and wait for it to be absorbed, stirring all the time.
  8. Keep adding the cooking liquid, little by little, until the rice is cooked.

risotto with clams ingredients

risotto with clams ingredients

 

Vermicelli with clams

This is a real Italian classic. There are a lot of different recipes for vermicelli con le vongole, some using tomatoes and/or chilli, but this one uses neither. The juice from the clams provides the sauce. Serves 4

vermicelli with clams ingredients

vermicelli with clams ingredients

  • 1  kilogram  clams — Scrubbed
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic — thinly sliced
  • 350 grams vermicelli
  • 1 tablespoon  chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Discard any clams with broken shells or which are open
  2. Heat some oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and clams
  3. Cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes
  4. Remove from the heat and lift out the clam. Discard any that remained closed
  5. Remove the clams from the shell, saving a few for decoration
  6. Strain the liquid from the saucepan into a frying pan and add the meat from the clams.
  7. Cook the vermicelli until al dente, drain and add to the frying pan.
  8. Cook for a couple minutes, tossing frequently.
  9. Adjust the seasoning, add the parsley and serve.
vermicelli with clams

vermicelli with clams