Saturday 16 December 2017

Forkful's speedy suppers: Crayfish Linguine

Crayfish Linguine. Photo: Mark Duggan
Crayfish Linguine. Photo: Mark Duggan

Aoife McElwain

Pasta really is an ally when it comes to speedy suppers, dished up at a time of need. Not only is it versatile launching point for a tasty meal, but a bowl of well-sauced pasta is a very comforting thing. I eat pasta with a homemade sauce at least once a week.

I must say I usually revert to a variation of the traditional onion, garlic and tomato pasta sauce, but that's mostly because I find the process of chopping the onions and garlic and simmering the sauce very therapeutic.

But when the week has been an especially long one, even chopping onions can feel beyond our capabilities. That's when a crème fraîche sauce comes in handy. You could use cream as well but personally I'm not a fan of the cloying richness of cream in pasta, and always use a lighter crème fraîche.

I love the tanginess that the crème fraîche adds as well.

When going for a crème fraîche sauce, there has to be one star ingredient that steps up to plate. Sometimes I use very finely grated courgettes or, depending on the season, some gorgeous wild mushrooms. This week, I've made use crayfish tails. In taste and texture, I much prefer these to prawns.

You'll find a packet of cooked and peeled crayfish tails in most supermarkets and for once it's a good thing that they're not from Ireland. Our own crayfish population, known as the white crayfish, are a protected and endangered species.

If you wanted to keep the meat in the dish local, you could boil a live Irish lobster and use its delicious pink flesh as a replacement for the crayfish. Sure, that might add about 30 minutes to the cooking process but lobster is always worth the extra effort.

Crayfish Linguine

Serves 2

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

125g of linguine

Olive oil

1 clove of garlic

4 tablespoons of crème fraîche

125g of cooked and peeled crayfish tails

Half a lemon

Salt

Pepper

Fresh chives or parsley

METHOD

1. Place a saucepan of water on the hob and bring to the boil. Add a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to its packet's instructions. It should take between 9 and 11 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, finely dice the garlic clove.

3. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large frying pan over a medium heat. Gently fry the garlic clove for 3 minutes, until it has started to soften. Make sure it doesn't brown or burn, as that makes the garlic bitter.

4. Add the crème fraîche to the pan and mix well with the garlic. Now add the crayfish tails and season generously with black pepper and a pinch of salt. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Bring the crème fraîche to a simmer, heating the crayfish through.

5. Drain the pasta when cooked through and return to the saucepan, off the heat. Add the sauce from the frying pan to the pasta and mix really well.

6. Divide the pasta between two serving plates. Grate a little zest of lemon over the top of each serving and finish with a sprinkling of finely chopped chives, or parsley if you can't get chives.

7. If you're happy to break the unspoken (and often broken) rule of never mixing fish with cheese, a handful of finely grated Parmesan wouldn't go astray here though it's considered blasphemous in some food circles to do so! A nice chunk of crusty bread would be great on the side, too.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Linguine: I love this slightly thicker version of spaghetti. I definitely think that linguine and spaghetti carry a crème fraîche sauce with a little more ease than their penne or rigatoni cousins. In saying that, feel free to use your favourite pasta shells or the ones you have to hand in your cupboard.

Irish Independent

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