Fresh Pasta with Shellfish

Fish loves pasta. A twirl of fettucine with steamed lobster or sole is much more in harmony than potatoes of any sort. This recipe makes use of that affinity to produce a dish from the less expensive, though more fiddly, shellfish like cockles. If you have grander beasts to add, like langoustine or clams, so much the better. The key to the flavour is the molluscs, and sauce made without them won’t taste as good.

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 4 oz (100 g) plain flour
  • salt
  • 1medium egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, mixed fresh herbs, to include orégano and flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Shellfish sauce

  • 8 oz (225 g) cockles
  • 1 lb (450 g) mussels
  • 8 oz (225 g) whole prawns
  • 4 shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • olive oil
  • 10 fl oz (300 ml) dry white cider
  • 2 tablespoons tomato passata, or 2 whole ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons double cream

Method

The pasta

  1. Sieve the flour with a good pinch of salt, then add the egg.
  2. In a liquidiser blend the fresh herbs with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add this to the flour and egg mix and then beat well.

    The amount of oil you will need to use in making the dough may well vary according to the type of flour and the size of the egg you have used. Don’t be afraid to add a little more oil if the mixture looks as if it needs it.

  3. Turn the dough out on to a floured board and knead well until it is a smooth elastic consistency.
  4. Cover the dough with a dampened cloth and allow to rest and relax for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  5. Roll out the dough on a well floured surface until 1/8 in (3 mm) thick. Dust the dough with flour or fine semolina if it becomes difficult to work.
  6. Trim the sides and cut into ribbon shapes. If you have a pasta-rolling machine this will simplify matters considerably.

The shellfish sauce

  • Carefully clean the cockles and mussels. The cockles will only need washing in clean water but mussels can be a real nuisance. Wash them through several changes of cold water, scrape off any barnacles or mud that may be attached to the shells, and yank out any beard there may be. The prawns will need shelling, and remember to keep the heads and shells for the sauce.
  • Chop the shallots and garlic. Sweat them in a few drops of olive oil and then add the dry white cider.
  • As soon as this boils add the cockles, mussels and prawn heads and shells. Put a tight-fitting lid on the saucepan, and cook for a couple of minutes. The mussels will have opened but should still be soft. Pick the cockles and mussels from their shells.
  • Strain off the stock you have made into a clean saucepan, then re-boil it and whisk in the tomato passata or finely chopped tomato and the cream.
  • Let this reduce until you have about 10 fl oz (300 ml) of sauce base. Whisk in
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil so that it is incorporated in the sauce.

To Complete

  • Drop the pasta into a large saucepan of boiling salted water. As soon as it re-boils, drain the pasta in a colander. Try to remove as much water as possible. As you are shaking the pasta add a few drops more of olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick together too much.
  • Warm the sauce through with the shellfish.
  • Add a little sauce to the pasta so that it sticks together, and then twirl it round a fork. Place one forkful in each of the four soup bowls and pour the shellfish sauce around it.