Wednesday, 13 July 2011

I Was Born By the Sea (Spaghetti with King Prawns-Shrimps)

She knew she was at home, as she could almost smell the sea... On hot Summer's night, she would go outside, look at the sky... So full of stars! She could almost touch and feel the humid caress of the sea breeze... her skin went salty, as the mild hot scirocco, would always carry sand and tiny particles of salt.

I was born by the sea, and though my daughter laughs when I say this... yes... the sea is very much part of me. When I feel sad, I think blue, when I feel lonely, I smell the seaweed... when I need to feel loved, I can close my eyes and feel the touch of sun... when I feel nostalgic, my mind can still "hide" in the corner of our garden, in Italy, amongst the broken terracotta posts and listen to the waves, crashing inside a shell bigger than my head.

"I could never spend a day of my life without seeing the sea" I once said to my friend Maria, as we walked by the Lungomare, in the very beautiful city where we were born and lived.

As a matter of fact, I did move and went to live in a country where I couldn't see the sea "every day" and where Winters were very long, cold and white...

Cooking the food of my country helps my keep in touch with myself and my "story". Today I will share this "experience" with you. It's a very traditional dish from my city by the sea, known for being one of the places, in Italy, where people eat the best, healthiest and certainly the most delicious food. And we are modest!

Spaghetti ai Gamberoni (Spaghetti With King Prawns)

(2 or 3 servings)

5 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small chilli pepper, sliced
(optional- I love it!)
9-12 king prawns
350 g (12 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
or: tinned tomatoes
2-3  tbs passata
A handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt, black pepper

350g (12 oz) spaghetti or linguine

 In a largish frying pan, or saucepan, place the oil. When this gets really hot, add the garlic and the chilli. Let the garlic brown, but not burn (it tastes bitter when burnt!)

Now you are ready to add your prawns. Leave the heads and the shells on, as they will give your sauce a magnificent flavour (you can use peeled prawns, but I can tell you the Earth WILL NOT move!)

Again, stir until the prawns begin to change colour (they will go bright orange!)

You can now add tomatoes and parsley (keep some parsley for garnish)

parsley growing in my garden

You need to stir this, keeping the heat high. Two or three minutes later, turn the heat down, to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and... the sauce is ready!

The sauce is ready!

Cook your pasta al dente, in a pot of boiling water (you add your pasta when the water is boiling, not before, unless you want to make glue!) drain and reserve some of the water, in a cup. Place the drained pasta in the pan, with the prawn sauce, stir and inhale the best seafood pasta dish ever!

I served my pasta with just one or maybe two of the prawns, and garnished with parsley and lovely samphire (delicious seaweed.) The rest of the prawns were eaten as a second course, with a salad I made with baby romaine, rocket, basil and samphire. It was "Veramente molto buono!"


My prawns with salad


  1. Anna you have done it again, I am drooling on my keyboard and I've just had dinner.

    I love this dish and while I make it, I will revise my recipe to include your ingredients.

    I share your passion for the ocean and, like you, my meditation and the place I do to in my mind, is the martello tower on our farm in Ireland, as I child I went there daily, the waves washed against it when the ocean was rough and there were often seals on the rocks. Beautiful memories.
    Ciao Bella

  2. Dear Helen,

    It looks like we share a passion. I saw the painting of your home by the sea, in Ireland: very beautiful. I paint with my mind and my writing, and you seem to use the same colours on canvas. You, too, use vibrant blues and yellows: sea, sky and sun. Lovely!
    I appreciate your comments, Helen, as I feel you are always very sensitive and sincere.


  3. Hi Anna, my mouth is watering, I can almost taste this dish! I too love the sea and don't like to go too long without seeing it. I find it really relaxes me. I love blue in my home, but hadn't thought that I might be replicating the sea.(there's a thought!)Love, Linda x