I love the way that pasta allows you to create impressive dishes with minimal effort. If I had to choose my favourite cuisine it would be a tough decision, but I’m sure I would settle for eating Italian food every day for the rest of my life if I really had to, and I wouldn’t complain. It’s the flavours; just a handful of good ingredients, carefully chosen, lift each other to new heights.
What is there to dislike about Italian food? It is generally quick to prepare, quick to cook, inexpensive and utterly delicious. It’s food for life.
RECIPE – to feed 2
25g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 banana shallots, peeled and finely chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp chilli flakes
4 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
12 raw king prawns, peeled but tails on
a small handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter with the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the shallots, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes until soft and aromatic, but not coloured.
Meanwhile, bring a very large pan of salted water to the boil, ready for your pasta.
Increase the heat, add the tomatoes to the frying pan with the chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and cook for a minute or so. Add the brandy and cook on for a further minute to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat, check the seasoning and put to one side.
Cook the tagliatelle in the boiling salted water until al dente, it will cook on a little in the sauce. If using dried tagliatelle nests this will take approximately 6 minutes, if using fresh then it will take as little as two minutes.
One minute before the pasta is ready, bring the frying pan back to a high heat and add the prawns, stirring occasionally. By the time the pasta has cooked and you have drained it, the prawns should have just turned pink and will be ready. Add the tagliatelle to the prawns and sauce, toss thoroughly then scatter the parsley onto it, give it one final toss through and serve alongside a bowl of undressed rocket.
Time this right and you can have it on the table within ten minutes from chopping your shallots – it’s seriously impressive fast food!