Looking for a contribution this week for Cookbook Sundays, I decided to dip into Giuliano Bugialli's "Foods of Tuscany" cookbook. This is actually a beautiful book, one that was gifted to me some 15 years ago, and which has not been used nearly enough. The book is a wonderful collection of old Tuscan family recipes - many are well-know favourites, and many more unusual and less widely known dishes. The book also incorporates beautiful photos, and much interesting narrative about the cultural and cooking traditions of the Tuscan region. I was surprised how much dust this book had gathered on my shelf, and I had forgotten just what a treasure it is - it was a thrill to revisit it and I've bookmarked several dishes to make over the coming weeks.
The recipe I want to share with you today is spaghetti served with zucchini and shrimp which are cooked in a saffron-infused broth. The brightness of lemon, the earthiness of saffron, the warmth of garlic, and the fresh herbaceousness of parsley combine perfectly to deliver a dish which is delicate and light (nothing overpowers the delicateness of the shrimp or the zucchini); the spaghetti, zucchini and shrimp are all in textural harmony with each other; and even served family-style in a big bowl, this dish still has an air of elegence and luxuriousness to it. Add to this the fact that this dish literally takes just moments to put together, and you have an absolute winner in my opinion.
Spaghetti with Zucchini and Shrimp
Adapted from Giuliano Bugialli's
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
2 small zucchini, sliced into thin discs
250g peeled shrimp
1 lemon, washed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of saffron
1 cup chicken stock
flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large tomato, very ripe
flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Put the shrimp into a bowl of cold water, and add a generous pinch of flaky sea salt. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze out the juice, and then put both the juice and the squeezed lemon halves into the bowl with the shrimps. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.
Heat the chicken stock until very warm (but need not be boiling), and add the saffron strands to the hot stock to infuse.
Set a large pan of water over high heat and bring up to the boil. Once the water comes up to a boil, salt the water liberally, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
Remove seeds from the tomato, and cut the flesh into small squares. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet set over low heat and, once warm, add the garlic and saute gently for about 2 minutes, taking care not to burn it.
Add the zucchini to the pan, raise the heat to high, season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and saute for about 30 seconds. Add all of the chicken stock and saffron to the pan, cover and cook for 2 minutes more.
Now remove the shrimp from their "lemon bath" and add them, along with the tomato, to the skillet. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes until the shrimp turn pink and are just cooked through.
Drain the spaghetti, add it to the skillet, sprinkle in a handful of chopped parsley, and mix everything together gently but thoroughly. Serve immediately.
I'm submitting this post to Cookbook Sundays, hosted by the lovely Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen. She's worth a visit any day of the week, but why not head over there right now and see who else has dusted off their cookbooks - you'll almost certainly find some great recipes, and maybe you'll discover a new book you'd like to add to your collection.
Interested in adding a copy of "Foods of Tuscany" to your collection - this book was published back in 1992, and does appear to be unavailable most places I looked, but Amazon seem to have both new and secondhand copies available - just click the link below.