“If you ask me what my last supper would be, this would be it,” says chef Gino D’Acampo.
“I love most foods and have a very varied diet, but this recipe just takes me back in time to when I was sitting around the kitchen table at my nonna and nonno’s with my sister and a load of my cousins and tucking into this amazing meal. Living by the sea, we ate this at least once a week and I feel so lucky that I now get to share it with my own family. Make sure you have a small bowl of lemon water nearby as your hands will need it after!”
- 250g live mussels
- 250g live clams
- 100ml dry white wine
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 50g salted butter
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 4 scampi
- 8 large unpeeled raw prawns
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
- 350g dried tagliatelle pasta
- 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
- finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour four litres of water into a large saucepan, add one tablespoon salt and bring to the boil.
Scrub the mussels and clams (or other shellfish or leave out this item) under cold running water. Rinse away the grit and remove any barnacles with a small, sharp knife. Remove the ‘beards’ from the mussels by pulling the dark, stringy pieces away from the shells. Drop the clams from a height into a large bowl a few times, to help them expel their sand, then wash briefly in cold water for a couple of minutes. Check that none of the clams are open or broken, and, if they are, discard them. Discard any open mussels or clams that do not shut when tapped firmly on the sink, or any with broken shells.
Place the mussels and clams in a medium saucepan, pour in the wine and cook with the lid on over medium heat for five minutes. Tip into a colander set over a bowl, so you can save the juices, discard any that remain closed and set aside.
Put the olive oil and butter into a large frying pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and gently fry until it begins to sizzle. Pour in the cooking juices from the mussels and clams – leaving behind the very last of the juices that might contain grit – and simmer for two minutes. Season with three-quarters of a teaspoon salt and half a teaspoon of pepper and stir occasionally.
Now stir in the scampi (if using) and prawns and fry them for one-and-a-half minutes. Using tongs, turn them over and continue to cook for a further one-and-a-half minutes until they all turn pink all over. Add the mussels and clams with the parsley and stir until heated through, about two minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente; my preference is to cook it for one minute less than instructed on the packet, giving the perfect al dente bite. Drain and tip back into the large saucepan you cooked it in. Pour over the seafood sauce, add the tomatoes and lemon zest and toss all together over a low heat for 30 seconds, allowing the flavours to coat the pasta.
Remove the prawns and scampi and place on a plate (this will make it easier to serve up the pasta, mussels and clams). Equally divide the pasta between four warmed serving plates or bowls, then top each portion with a scampi and two prawns. Serve with lemon wedges. For me, this is my favourite meal of all time.
(Ed: Use whatever fresh seafood is available in your region when you are making this dish.)
Gino’s Italian Family Adventure: Easy Recipes The Whole Family Will Love by Gino D’Acampo, is published by Bloomsbury, photography Haarala Hamilton. Available now.
What’s your favourite seafood to cook at home? Why not share how the recipe turns out for you in the comments section below?
– With PA
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