The Catalonia region in Northeastern Spain is one of the most celebrated culinary regions in Europe. With deceptively simple, rustic dishes created from humble, high-quality produce and local ingredients like eggs, olive oil, salt cod, cheese and bread (to say nothing of the jamón), this is one part of the world where you’re guaranteed to eat well every meal of the day. Join London-based chef José Pizarro on a journey through this storied cuisine, and get inspired! This rigatoni with prawns and mussels is the essence of Catalan pasta.
Pasta dishes have been a big part of Catalan cuisine since the seventeenth century, and some of the old recipes are still really well known today, such as cannelloni or the Fideuà or Sopa de galets, which is typically served at Christmas. Galets are big pasta shells, and the soup has meatballs in it as well. I tried something similar to this recipe at a restaurant in the old shipyard area of Barceloneta. The restaurant is called Suquet de l’Almirall – it’s so worth heading down there to try it. That, and the paella Denominación Origen (D.O.) Barcelonetta.
- 12 ounces dried rigatoni
- 1 pound 2 ounces fresh mussels, cleaned
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ounces butter
- 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 garlic clove, crushed
- 16 large raw prawns, peeled, tails left on
- 10 ounces fresh shellfish stock
- 3 1/2 ounces double cream
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon snipped chives
For the pasta
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni for 10–12 minutes until just tender.
Meanwhile, put a large pan over a high heat. When really hot, add the mussels with a splash of water, cover with a lid and steam until just opened. Drain (discard any that stay shut) and then pick all the meat from the shells.
In another pan, heat the oil and butter and fry the shallot for 10 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and prawns and fry until the prawns are pink all over. Remove the prawns and set aside. Add the stock and cream to the pan you fried the prawns in. Simmer until thickened then add a squeeze of lemon juice. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce with the fish and chives. Serve straight away.