Prawns with Ouzo, Orzo and Courgette
A really lovely summery dish from Marianna Leivaditaki of Morito's Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea. The tip of roasting the prawn shells before you make the stock is genius though, having made it, I think you can get away with using fewer of the other ingredients in the stock - see my note at the bottom of the recipe.
Marianna writes: This dish is delicate and velvety and it’s perfect in the summer when the courgettes are at their best. Make sure you get fresh prawns for this and their size is irrelevant as long as they are so fresh that they are almost still alive. Pick small tender andfirm courgettes and if they happen to have flowers attached to them then add these too.
— 400g (14oz) fresh prawns, peeled, shells reserved
For the prawn stock
— 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
— 1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
— 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
— 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
— 1 white onion, roughly chopped
— 3 bay leaves
— A pinch of saffron
— 200ml (7fl oz) white wine
— 50ml (2fl oz) brandy
— 1 tbsp good-quality butter
— 200g (7oz) orzo pasta
— 3 pale green courgettes, very thinly sliced
— 500g (1lb 2oz) cherry tomatoes, quartered
— 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
— 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
— 20ml (4 tsp) Greek ouzo
— Zest of 1 (small) lemon
— Zest of 1 (small) orange
— 1 handful of mint leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.
Place the prawn shells on a baking tray and dry out in the oven for about 20–30 minutes. This really helps to concentrate and increase the flavour of the shells.
Heat the oil in a pan and add all the stock ingredients. Toss around and cook gently for 10 minutes with no water. You want to caramelize and sweeten the vegetables. Add the prawn shells to the pan and cover with water. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the stock to rest for a while before passing it through a sieve and reserving the liquid.
Heat the butter in a pan and add the orzo. Stir gently for a couple of minutes until it’s all shiny and coated in the butter. Add half the courgettes and all the tomatoes together with the oil and fennel seeds. Increase the heat and start adding the prawn stock in batches – you may not need to use all of it.
The orzo will take about 15 minutes to cook. Just before it’s ready, add the remaining courgettes, ouzo and lemon and orange zest. Finally add the prawns and check the seasoning. Cook until the prawns turn pink. You want this dish to be loose and juicy – a bit like a risotto. Serve with the fresh mint scattered over the top.
If you have any prawn stock left over, freeze it to use another time.
Having made this recipe I think you could get away with leaving out the celery, red pepper and brandy from the stock and I would add the wine once you've sweated off the vegetables (then top up with water). You could add a bit more ouzo (I used 2 tbsp in total) but go easy on the orange zest which could otherwise dominate the dish.
What to drink: See my recommendations in Match of the Week.
Aegean: Recipes from the Mountains to the Sea by Marianna Leivaditaki is published by Kyle Books at £26. Photograph ©Elena Heatherwick www.octopusbooks.co.uk
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