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Pasta of the month

Want a new pasta dish in your life? Need something to cook this weekend? Mis-sold PPI?

This week’s recipe for spaghetti with leek, chilli, and brown shrimp will sort you out.

Incredibly simple (you’ll be done in 20 mins). Slightly luxurious (thanks to the shrimp). And a dish full of oomph (hello chilli).

This week’s album
Reasonable Doubt by JAY-Z

One of my favourite artists, JAY-Z was my first taste of hip-hop and he got me hooked. I remember seeing an interview of him and instantly wanted to listen to as much of his stuff as I could. That led me to this album, his debut, which I still think is his best.


Italian with a British twist

This spaghetti dish really delivers on flavour. It’s not a classic you’ll find in Italy, but instead celebrates a great British ingredient: brown shrimp.

These are the tiny little guys used for making potted shrimp. What they lack in size, they make up for in flavour.

Also delicious: potted shrimp on toast.

You’re more than welcome to cook and peel the shrimp yourself. However you don't really need that kind of admin in your life right now. It’s far easier - and equally as delicious - to buy them already done. They’re usually available in fishmongers and a number of supermarkets.

The other key ingredient this week is one of my favourite vegetables: the humble leek.

Leeks form the basis of a very common dish in Italy called pasta ai porri (literally ‘pasta with leeks’). It’s often served during the winter with plenty of local cheese and it’s obviously totes delish.

The brown shrimp is going to add to this with no extra effort but a little extra luxury. Plus the leeks will become incredibly sweet when cooked the way we’re going to.

What you need

The below serves 2. It takes 10 mins to prep and 10 mins to cook.

200-220g dried spaghetti (or linguine)
1 medium leek
40g unsalted butter
½ tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice
15g fresh parsley (roughly chopped)
70-100g brown shrimp (cooked & peeled)
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. Trim the top of the leek and then cut in half lengthways. Remove the tough outer layer, and rinse the leek thoroughly under cold running water. 

Place a large frying pan on a medium low heat. Finely slice the leek and add to the pan along with half the butter. Season with salt and pepper and leave to sweat for around 10 mins, lowering the heat when needed to avoid colouring the leeks.

2. Place a pan of seasoned water onto a high heat for the pasta.

3. After 10 mins of the leeks cooking, add a ladle of hot water from the pasta pan into the leeks. Leave them to cook further. Add more water as necessary so that the leeks always have a small amount of water to cook in. We want them to really soften.

4. When the pasta water is boiling, add your pasta. Set a timer for 2 mins less than the instructions suggest for ‘al dente’ pasta.

5. When the timer goes, transfer the pasta to the pan with the leeks, reserving some of the cooking water.

6. Toss the pasta through the stewed leeks so that they are well mixed. Cook the pasta and leeks together for 1 min, adding some of the pasta water as required. There should be enough water so that everything is nicely coated.

7. Now add your dried chilli (if using), lemon juice, remaining butter, parsley, and brown shrimps. Toss vigorously for 30 seconds so that everything emulsifies and creates a velvety sauce.

8. Check for seasoning, adding any extra lemon juice, salt, pepper or chilli as desired. Serve and smile.

Final thought

A short and sweet one for this week, mainly because this would make for an ace lockdown lunch.

Not eating pasta this month on ethical grounds? You could always spiralise some courgettes and use that as your base. 

Enjoy your time in the kitchen. Same time next week,


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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