Frank's Famous Linguine Recipe
This recipe takes no more than 20-30 minutes, uses only one pan and a colander, and is a great main course when you have guests, who will think you slaved over a stove for ages! It is only mildly spicy, so even vindaloo-haters should like it! All ingredients are easily available from Tesco, Sainsbury etc
For 4 people you need:
- 500g linguine (or spaghetti at a push)
- 200g of shelled tiger prawns (more or less to taste)
- 4 tiger prawns with shell on tail (for garnish, not essential but looks good)
- 1 green chilli
- 2 cloves garlic
- Handful of pitted black olives (If large, split them) Even if some of your diners don’t like these, include them and remove them from their plates when serving as they are essential to the flavour. Or chop them small and tell them that they are truffles if they ask!
- About 200g fresh baby plum tomatoes, rinsed (cherry tomatoes will do at a pinch)
- 2 jars Heinz Tomato Frito. This is amazing stuff, cooked, sieved tomatoes with a hint of garlic and onion. I discovered it in Spain under a local brand name! If you can’t get it, use two cartons of good quality passata
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Bunch of flat parsley, rinsed
- Saving 4 sprigs for garnish, de-stalk and chop the parsley.
- Crush or finely chop the garlic
- Cut the stalk off the chilli. Use a teaspoon handle to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Cut the chilli into very thin slices. Wash your hands after to avoid pain later!
- In a large pan, cook the linguine according to packet instructions. Use the lowest time stated e.g. if it says 9 - 11 minutes, cook for 9 minutes only. Drain in the colander.
- If you are having a starter (try a simple salad of sliced fresh mozzarella, rocket, roasted pepper slices and balsamic vinegar), rinse the pasta in cold water, serve the starter now and join your guests.
- Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into the saucepan and return to the stove on a medium heat. Immediately throw in the plum tomatoes. Cook for 2-4 minutes, shaking occasionally (the pan not you) until the skins just start to split.
- Add the chilli, olives and shelled prawns. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the crushed garlic. Cook for one minute ensuring it doesn't brown.
- Add the chopped parsley and frito. Simmer vigorously for 2 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the stove and stir the drained linguine into the sauce, separating it and making sure it is warm and well-coated.
- Using the largest plates you have (I use these huge pasta bowls about 15 inches across!), pile the linguine on each plate ensuring everyone gets a fair share of prawns and sauce.
- Garnish with the reserved parsley sprigs and tiger prawns with shell on tail.
- Serve to rapturous applause and admiration!
Nanny’s Vietrese Meatball Lasagne
Frank’s Italian mother learned this from her mother, and it took years to get her to pass it on to us. We have adapted the recipe to the 21st century, and added a bit of flexibility, but essentially it is the same as it has always been. Especially popular if you hate the sticky mess that frying meatballs makes, or making bechamel sauce, as there’s none in it!
For 4-6 people you need:
- 500g lean minced beef
- 1 packet no-need-to-precook lasagne sheets
- 3 tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 slices stale bread
- 2 eggs
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
- 6 – 8 fresh basil leaves, torn
- 250g cooking/grated mozzarella
- 50 – 100g freshly shaved/grated parmesan cheese
- 100g grated mozzarella or other mild cheese * (e.g. Edam) for the meatballs
- Olive oil
- Soak torn bread in enough milk to cover for an hour or more
- The sauce
- In a saucepan, fry garlic and tomato puree in olive oil for a few minutes (do not allow garlic to brown)
- Add tinned tomatoes and juice, plus 500 ml boiling water, cover, simmer for 30 minutes.
(Water will be soaked up by lasagne later). Meanwhile…
- The meatballs
- Squeeze surplus milk from bread
- Thoroughly mix beef, eggs, grated mild cheese *, bread. Season.
- Form into meatballs 3 – 4cms across
- Lightly oil a microwaveable plate
- Put meatballs on plate
- Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes at a time until they look cooked and solid, turning between each “blast”. Drain off juice into tomato sauce during cooking as necessary.
- Allow to cool enough to handle
- Cut each meatball in half
- Stir torn basil leaves into tomato sauce just before taking it off the stove.
- With a ladle, spread a little tomato sauce over the bottom of an ovenproof dish. The dish should preferably be about 30-40 cm square and 8 – 10 cm deep, but use what you’ve got!
- Next, add a single layer of lasagne sheets. If necessary, break to shape to ensure a good fit.
- Then add layers until you run out of ingredients in the following order: meatballs, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, lasagne sheets. The top layer should just be tomato sauce over lasagne sheets, with no dry lasagne sheets showing through. (Add tomato juice or a little water if necessary)
- Cover and bake in oven at about 200°C for 30 – 40 minutes. Do not allow top layer of lasagne to dry out. If you like, 10 minutes before the end, top with some grated mozzarella, finish cooking with lid removed.
- Serve (also great reheated the next day!)
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