Pasta risotto

I have tasted this pasta many times since I arrived at the UK.

The salad bar at Waitrose has at least a salad using this pasta every summer, and so does M&S’. Back home, in San Sebastian, my hometown, one of my favourite pintxos bar uses this ingredient too. La Cuchara de San Telmo, the most amazing place in the heart of the old town serves this pasta with delicious goat cheese in a pintxo called risotto. If you like food, make my hometown your next holiday destination and once you are there, do visit La Cuchara de San Telmo. (Other amazing pintxos there are the foie with apple compote and the rock octopus)

A few months ago I decided to ask my friend Raffaele where could i find it as I was keen to experiment with it. He suggested going to our local Italian deli: Gazzano’s (by the office)

Cooking time: 15 minutes
Quantity: This mix serves 4

Tips:

1. If you opt for fresh crab, please remember my grandad’s teaching… Only eat shellfish when the name of the month has an R In it. Apparently, the animals caught during late spring/summer tend to be unsettled with mother nature’s life cycle proceedings and this ‘stress’ / unbalance can get transmitted to us. Hence allergic reactions etc… (I am not giving medical advice, only sharing what I’ve learnt, but needless to say, you should not eat it if you are allergic)

2. A tip when buying pasta is to buy “bronze die” as the quality is nicer. My friend Raffaele explained to me that the pasta will keep shape better)

3. I recently found a single clove garlic which comes to the Uk from Italy. It is delicious and fresh so I would advice that if you could, you got hold of it.

4. A random tip: Do use timber or bamboo tools when you cook with non stick Teflon pans. Avoid metal utensils as you will scratch the Teflon and you might end up eating it… I am not trying to scare anyone or saying any more but it is not healthy! If you don’t think that you are able to use timber/bamboo utensils, but other types of pans.

Ingredients:

4 spoons of olive oil
2 round shallots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves (or one if you are using the single clove garlic) finely chopped
A coffee spoon (flat) of anchovy paste
15 pitted black olives

1 courgette diced
6 baby corns cut in half an inch long discs
300 gr of puntalette pasta (number 73 from El Cecco)
100 gr of prawns (veined and slice in half)
6 crab sticks separated in strings (you are very welcome to use fresh crab)

500 ml of good quality chicken stock

Cooking Instructions:

Place the oil, the garlic, shallots , olives and anchovies in a pan and heat in medium heat until golden. The anchovy paste will melt.

Make sure that you turn them regularly to avoid any ingredient to be overcooked. Add the courgette and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the puntalette and coat it with the ingredients before you add the stock. Bring to boil , cover the pan and lower the heat. Five minutes later add the crab. Mix the pasta and make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Five minutes later add the corn. Again, check with the wooden spoon that nothing is sticking to the bottom and that there is enough liquid.

Another five minutes later, repeat the operation, add the prawns and finish cooking. The pasta should be soft.

The final result is a bit thick soup/ broth like, or at least that is what my friend Raffaele explained to me that puntalette should be like. He explained that mamas in Napoli, use this pasta with chicken stock, chicken and mushrooms when you are feeling under the weather… A bit like chicken soup else where. However, you may (as I ‘ve done in the picture) remove some of the liquid at the time of serving, in order for it to feel more like a pasta dish. As usual, it is up to the cook, I say!

Photograph by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate
Recipe by Cristina Lanz-Azcarate

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