Samphire has been an easily available ingredient around here for years, but I haven’t been using it very often. As it is such a local ingredient to me, it had not occurred to me to use it in Italian cooking. That is, until I saw Marina of Le Ricette di Baccos using it for a pasta dish with shrimp. She refers to samphire as ‘sea asparagus’ (asparagi di mare) or salicornia. I made something very similar to her paccheri con gamberoni e asparagi di mare, with cherry tomatoes and a stock made from the heads and shells of the shrimp. For the pasta I used calamarata, which get its name because it resembles rings of calamari. It was a really nice dish. Grazie, Marina! In our upcoming travels to Italy we are going to meet up with Marina, and I am really looking forward to that.
500 grams (1.1 lb) jumbo shrimp, with heads and shells
150 grams (.33 lb) samphire
250 grams (.55 lb) cherry tomatoes
150 grams (.33 lb) calamarata, mezze maniche, paccheri, or other short pasta
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and 150 grams (.33 lb) of calamarata, mezze maniche, paccheri, or other short pasta. Set the timer for 2 minutes less than the time indicated on the package for al dente.
When the shrimp shells have simmered for 20 minutes, strain the shrimp stock and push down on the shrimp heads to squeeze as much flavor out of them as possible. I like to use a chinois and a pestle to do this job.
This is great with many Italian whites. Perhaps the best choice would be a Vermentino from either Liguria or Sardinia, but a Soave or a Greco di Tufo would also be very nice.
Marina recommends a Ribolla Gialla or a Malvasia from Istria. I don’t know that wines yet — although that is about to change! –, but Marina knows her wines so those are certainly recommended as well.
Trenette alla Genovese is fresh pasta cooked with haricots verts and potatoes, and served with pesto alla genovese. A delicious summery pasta dish from Liguria.