Ever been shopping and yet you still don’t know what you are going to cook for dinner?! Me too. Life can get in the way of a good meal especially if the focus is on getting the shopping done, but not having had the time to think the weeks meals through.
Remember the days when you said, sod it, let’s just go out for dinner?! (Maybe you still do. Enjoy that!) Flexibility with family life can mean you are a bit more tied to eating at home or have to pay someone to be able to go out and pay for dinner! Or maybe you are still at the stage where more thought goes into what the kids are going to eat, and you grab what you can or get a takeaway. We have all been there.
Most people I talk to about food, love to eat but to find the time to think about it in any great depth is a sticking point; Or knowing where to find the ingredients or find new recipes that work, a bridge too far! So we end up getting on a 1 or 2 week rotation of meals that become a bit samey or variations on a theme. For those people, and this was me until both my boys were in school, this is why I started the Fuss Free Foodie.
Life is busy, it’s the way we find ourselves living our lives these days. Life hacks are where it’s at, and the Fuss Free Foodie is here to make eating amazing food accessible without the fuss! This is how I spend my time, and I love to share what I find, cook and eat. This is not an overhaul or need to make massive changes, but an opportunity to try and integrate a new recipe a week, or fortnight and rediscover that passion for food: the fuss-free way!
Life here in the Cadd household has changed a bit in the last 6 months, as our 7 year old has started Beavers. Fantastic. He loves it! But on a Friday night?! It was almost a deal breaker!! Traditionally, Friday nights were always about going to the pub after work and welcoming in the weekend. In fact, my husband and I used to work together so this was where we first started hanging out. 15 years later, and the scenario has changed slightly, but Friday is about catching up in front of the log burner with a glass of red wine, having eaten a lovely meal. So how does this happen when the evening goes off-piste with an activity?!
Pasta. Not just because I’m half Italian, but because it’s fast. A bit of prep before and the rest can be pulled together whilst the pasta cooks. A lot can happen in 10 minutes!! We don’t nearly eat enough fish, but seafood we love. Mussels (did you see the recipe for La Mouclade?) are such a fast food, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change. Seafood risotto is lovely but SO labour intensive, as is Paella. But pasta checks a lot of boxes for us. Driven by what I can get fresh from my Fishmonger (Smiths Fish, Westbury Park) I will be flexible as to what I use, but a combination of prawns, mussels, squid and maybe some cockles work beautifully. Clams are lovely but very expensive and you get a lot more meat with mussels.
It’s our reoccurring joke at the fishmongers that fish/seafood is the original fast food…and you know what….it’s right. It’s healthy and fast and we enjoyed this dish so much last Friday, we are having it again today! I hope you will give it a try. Let me know how you get on in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group and if you seek help in any particular culinary areas, I will do my best to help! Lisa.
Up to 500g of prepared raw seafood (I used 2 handfuls of Mussels, 6 large prawns, heads off, peeled and deveined, 3 small calamari, cut into rings, check the tentacles for a small bone and chop out, a handful of prepared cockles if available)
200g spaghetti or linguine
50ml white wine
250g cherry tomatoes (vine and flavoursome as possible)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large tbsp of chopped parsley
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper
- Prepare the mussels (*1) and place in a hot pan and throw in the wine and put the lid on. Cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking regularly until the mussels are open. Discard any unopened mussels. Place a colander over a bowl, tip the mussels into the colander and keep the cooking juices in the bowl. Place a lid on top to keep the mussels warm.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and juice and then chop roughly. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and add the spaghetti. Bring to a simmer and cook according to the instructions, keeping the pasta al dente.
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan, and turn the heat up high. Fry the calamari, quickly for 2 minutes to try and get some colour on it. If the pan is on high, this is long enough! Take it out and place it with the mussels.
- Turn down the heat and add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan, and add the garlic into the pan and let it sizzle for a couple of minutes gently without browning. Add the chilli, if using, and tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. Add all but the last 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquor from the mussels to the frying pan, bring to the boil and then reduce until it has a sauce-like consistency (about 5 mins). Add a splash of water if it starts to dry out. Season with pepper, it should have enough salt from the mussels but check.
- Place the prawns in the sauce to cook. Once one side is pink, turn them over to cook on the other side. If the pasta is not quite ready, take them out to hang with the other seafood, try not to overcook them.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain and retain a tablespoon or 2 of the cooking water in the bottom of the pan. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into the pasta and coat it with oil. Set the pan aside until the sauce is ready.
- Before you serve up, place the seafood (mussels in or out of the shells, however, you prefer) back into the sauce, if using cockles add them at this point (they just need warming as they are cooked already). Stir around, and then toss the pasta into the sauce, (make sure pan big enough) stir, sprinkle in parsley, check the seasoning and serve. Enjoy!
*1 To prepare the mussels, rinse them in plenty of cold water. Discard any that are open, which do not close when you tap the side where the ‘hinge’ is or if gently squeezed. Remove the fibrous ‘beards’ that are on the side of the mussel between the tightly closed shell. Scrape/knock off any barnacles from the outside of the shell and rinse the mussels again to remove any bits of shell. Store in the bottom of the fridge with a piece of damp kitchen roll over the top until ready to cook. When eating the mussels if any remain closed, discard them.