28.4.10

Alexanders, Prawns and Chilli with Spaghetti - Recipes

I was on my way to a Fishing trip on Sunday just gone and it had been a month since my last trip home. You have to remember that it was a very early start (for a Sunday morning) about 7:30am, and on the home straight I noticed these tall and obvious plants.. I recognised them even in my dazed and still sleepy state and earmarked them for my return trip.

Much later on that day and a few fish (and some Sea Spinach) in the bag I remembered where I saw this tall and splendid plant, indeed not one but I saw hundreds of them for a good mile stretch along the road – they were Alexanders!!

Alexanders are an ancient import betrothed to us by the Romans. The reason that they like coastal areas – or near coastal areas, is that they are far less resistent to frost and the salty air surrounding coastal areas is much more unlikely to frost, although I have found them much further in land (including my home town Chelmsford!).

When picking Alexanders, cut it from near to the base. Try not to damage the plant and when you get home place it – cut stem down – into a bucket of cold water, it will keep it fresh for a good few days..

To the recipe!

Alexanders, Prawns and Chilli with Spaghetti

Ingredients:

Alexanders
6 leaf stalks
A good handful of the Leaves (make sure you select the greenest perfect leaves)
6 pieces of base stalk (the purplish thick end with the cavity)

Packet of Prawns (20 or so medium sized prawns)
1 x Chilli (fresh, dried if unavailable)
1 x Medium Onion
3 x Spring Onions
½ packet of Spaghetti
Glass of White Wine
2 x Tbsp Low fat Creme Fraiche
1 x Lemon
Maldon Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil

You are going to love this! Have you ever cooked Alexanders before? I am going to go step by step so that you don’t make the same mistakes as I once did.

Take the thick ends of the Alexanders cut them off just inside of the bamboo like compartments. You need to peel the stalks to remove the external threads that protect and give strength to the stem – really peel it back, the threads can be tough and akward to eat! Once peeled (leaving no skin on) chop into half centimetre rounds…. Stalk done (Thick Purplish end done).

Get a saucepan on for the Spaghetti. This is a little trick of mine that I use to flavour pasta dishes when I have to boil the pasta first. Fill the water up to about ¾ full salt the water and then throw in the tough leaf stalks. When this water begins to boil it will start to take on the flavour of the Alexanders and amplify the total flavour of Alexanders in the dish.

Chop the onion and add it to a frying pan along with some Olive Oil and the rounds of Alexanders stalk (season with Salt). Fry the onion and Alexanders until translucent and sweet it will take 8 minutes or so. Whilst these are cooking place your pasta in the now boiling water (with the Alexander leaf stems) and cook on boil.

Chop your Spring Onions on the slant and fine dice your Chilli then add to the frying pan.

We are getting there, get your plates warming!

Stir the contents of the frying pan making sure that nothing sticks, what we want is sweet cooked vegetables not mush or crispy veg.

After the Chilli and Spring Onions have cooked for a minute or so add the White Wine to the hot pan, season well with both Salt and Pepper (remember that you already seasoned the veg with Salt). When reduced a little and the smell of alcohol has passed stir in the Crème Fraiche, Prawns and the Alexander leaves adding the juice of the lemon.

Drain the pasta (discarding the Alexander leaf stalks from the cooking water) – reserving a little water for the sauce if too thick – then add the pasta to the frying pan and stir well heating through.

Your dish is cooked!

Use tongs to remove the pasta from the pan twisting when you place it on the warm plates to form a tower. Make sure there is plenty of prawns on each plate and garnish with fresh Alexander leaves.. You are there!

I created this dish on Tuesday night and was thinking about it Wednesday morning, wanting to cook it again..

Alexanders are great, they are the original Celery. The stem will store in the fridge for ages and you can use it to enrich stocks and cooking waters, great flavour do it!!

So the dish itself.. Picture it! The pale Spaghetti covered with dark green Alexander leaves, red flecks of Chilli and pink plump Prawns bathed in a creamy lemony sauce… Are you getting it?

It’s delicious! You’ll love it. If you are living near the coast (up to 15 - 20 miles in) you are probably driving by this amazing ingredient everyday, and you can use it in day to day cooking very easily.

This Spring Spaghetti recipe is easy and quick to cook and I assure you its very good to eat, so why not try it!

Wild Food home

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