For once my focus hasn’t been on the food. It has remained in that area – general food and eating (what do you take me for) – but instead, it has been on how to serve it.
You see, dear reader, I am without a dining table. This bothersome conundrum has meant a lot of TV dinners over the last month. Calum was once again building stuff – an enjoyable activity for both of us – and we moved the old table out of it’s alcove so he could attach some shelves to the wall. This excursion was simply too much for the tired table and it collapsed and, to tell you the truth, was no great disappointment.
Since then, however, the coffee table has been our substitute. And this has been fine and dandy – a little too fine and dandy to be honest, who doesn’t love a picnic dinner in front of a film, isn’t it the best dinner-time treat – but now enough’s enough and we need a dining table again! One can have too much of a good thing. Finding one has been a little complicated though. Last week I could be found wrestling with a table in a local charity shop, sweating as I shimmied the stubborn leaves apart, getting the leaves stuck then asking the shop assistant for help. This ordeal will not be the last I’m sure (I now carry a tape measure with me, I’m always prepared) but in the meantime we need TV dinner inspiration.
I am no stranger to TV dinners – it is a past-time well practised with my mum. Birthday take-aways, a good drama, or the kitchen table being so laden with detritus, any excuse we would grab our bowls, kitchen paper and head to the TV. Pasta, stir-fry, curry and rice; anything requiring just a fork as a mouth-shovel is perfect TV dinner fare. Coincidentally, this weekend my mum came to town and we celebrated our reunion with a TV dinner. Halfway through the film Chef I could no longer take the sounds of sizzling, the close ups of melted cheese and expressions of gastronomic ecstasy and had to cook. Leaving my mum and Calum in front of the TV I simmered spaghetti, chopped courgettes and sautéed garlic in pools of melted butter. I returned to the sofa laden with bowls of buttery garlic prawn pasta – studded with these pearly pink prawns the pasta was as summery as the sunshine outside (hidden behind the curtains because the glare reflects off the TV screen) and perfect for a picnic to eat off our laps. My measuring tape will have to wait patiently while I eat TV dinners like this.
Garlicky Prawn Spaghetti
3 tbsp butter
Splash of olive oil
1 small courgette
Half a punnet of baby plum tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
Handful of parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put a pan of water on to boil and salt generously.
- Slice the courgette in half lengthways. Cut it into half-moons – not too thin or the moisture will reduce the pieces to mush. Slice the tomatoes in half. Roughly chop the parsley.
- By now the water should be hot. Chuck all the spaghetti into the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes, or according to packet instructions.
- Heat a deep frying pan, add a good knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot and foaming add the courgette and cook gently until lightly golden.
- Crush the garlic and add it to the courgettes along with another tablespoon of butter. This will colour quickly so lower the heat. Sauté for 30 seconds until smelling delicious then throw in the tomatoes, season with salt and gently smash them into the garlic butter.
- Taste a strand of spaghetti and if it is soft with a bite then grab a mug and scoop up as much pasta water as you can from the boiling pot. Now, drain the spaghetti and leave to steam dry slightly.
- Meanwhile, add the prawns and the rest of the butter to the frying pan and pour in a few splashes of pasta water. Stir gently and a silky butter sauce will form. If you are using cooked prawns you only need to heat them through, raw prawns will take roughly three minutes to turn pink.
- Once cooked and the sauce is smooth and shiny take the pan off the heat, toss in the spaghetti, most of the chopped parsley and salt and pepper. Cut off a cheek of lemon and squeeze the juice over the pasta. Stir everything together, taste and season with more salt, pepper and lemon juice if necessary.
- Dollop into bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Tuck in.