Rigatoni Giardiniera (née Penne Giardiniera) with Garlic Chilli Prawns
After binging on a lot of Indian food recently I thought I’d be a bit more sensitive towards our over-indulged tummies. Pasta-pesto-cheese, although I love, tends to bloat me up like no tomorrow. Possibly because of the brick of cheese I tend to load up the bowl of pasta with. So I decided to copy-cat one of my most favourite dishes (and the only one worth having in my opinion) at Carluccio’s – Penne Giardiniera. The “penne” they actually use are massively fat tubes called Rigatoni. Hence, staying true to the dish I’ve re-named it as Rigatoni Giardiniera.
I was super sneaky in the way I jotted the recipe down at the bookstore. Not being a fan of a lot of the food at Carluccio’s, I wasn’t up for purchasing his book. When I came across the Penne Giardiniera recipe while browsing it seemed very simple to memorise. So memorising it and quickly jotting it down in my trusty little moleskine diary, I looked all but inconspicuous. My attempt was very similar to Carluccio’s (not a shocking surprise, as the recipe is his), and as much I am delighted to be able to re-create my fave Carluccio’s dish at home I am also a bit sad about not being as excited about the only reason why I visit Carluccio’s. It’s one of those cheap-ish-cheerful-ish places you go with friends when you can’t be bothered with queuing at Busaba Eathai (yummy thai calamari!) so I’m sure I’ll be visiting again regardless.
I decided to pair up the prawns with the pasta as I was in a particular prawny mood. This recipe is also a very simple one from Carluccio’s book and tastes scrummy.
Carluccio’s Rigatoni Giardiniera Recipe – serves 4
1 portion of fried spinach balls (recipe below)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
8 tbsp olive oil
2 courgettes, trimmed and grated
60g Parmesan, grated
1) Pasta: Cook pasta till al dente in salted boiling water for about 8-10 minutes. Reserve a few tbsp of the starchy pasta water and drain the rest.
2) Courgette: Heat the oil over medium. Fry garlic and chilli in oil for 1 minute (make sure the garlic doesn’t brown). Add the courgette and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the parmesan and mix. Season with salt + pepper.
3) Plate up: Toss in the pasta and pasta water and serve with spinach balls.
Fried Spinach Balls Recipe
500g spinach, hard stalks removed
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp garlic puree
100g fresh white breadcrumbs (I used golden ones from my cupboard. Works just fine)
50g Parmesan, grated
Olive oil to shallow fry
1) Cook raw spinach: Blanche the spinach for 2 mins in salted boiling water. Squeeze out the water from the spinach in a sieve and chop finely.
2) Balls: Stir in eggs, salt + pepper, nutmeg, garlic, breadcrumbs and cheese. Mix well till you reach a binding consistency. If you need to, add more breadcrumbs to bring the mixture together (I needed a couple of extra handfuls). Roll into little balls and shallow fry in heated olive oil over medium heat until golden for 4-5 minutes. Drain and keep warm in a preheated oven at 190C.
Carluccio’s Gamberoni all ‘Aglio Olio e Peperoncino (Prawns in Garlic, Oil and Chilli) Recipe
12 massive jumbo humungo prawns
1 lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 red chillies, finely chopped
100ml olive oil
Heat oil to a high heat. Add prawns and cook over high heat for 1.5 minutes on each side. It should get nice and golden. Sprinkle lemon juice, add garlic and chilli, give it a good toss and serve hot.