Caprese Spaghetti

Last week was dominated by all things Italian and pasta were the stars of the show. First and best of all, a blogger's dream: one of my own recipes appeared in the London Metro, Pappardelle with Broad Beans.

Secondly, a meeting with one of my favourite food experts, chef and all-around nice person, Antonio Carluccio.

This happened during the 160th birthday Cirio's celebrations. Mr Caluccio didn't disappoint, he was warm, friendly, funny and a twinkly performer. He talked about his "mof-mof" principle: Minimum of Fuss, Maximum of Flavour. Explained that in his almost 60 years of promoting, cooking and eating genuine, regional Italian food, he had never done any product advertising. But then Cirio tinned tomatoes PRs came along and asked him to collaborate over this special anniversary. He accepted because, the brand reminds him of his mother's cooking, of his place of birth on the Amalfi coast; this leads me neatly to Capri and.....

The Caprese Spaghetti, a recipe which I had torn from a discarded Evening Standard magazine that very same week. The dish caught my eye all the wrong reasons: the props were well positioned and the dish wore the colours of summer and the Italian flag with its tomatoes, basil and mozzarella balls. It also contains a large fennel, a vegetable often misused or underused. Fennel, in my opinion, needs to play second fiddle, otherwise, it can be overpowering.

Caprese Spaghetti
Serves 4-6
2 shallots, sliced
1 large fennel, finely chopped 
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced 
1 tsp dried chilli flakes 
1 glass of white wine 
400g good-quality, sweet baby tomatoes, halved 
2-3 balls of buffalo mozzarella, roughly torn
2 avocados, peeled and chopped into small squares
100g pine nuts, lightly toasted (optional) 
Zest of 1 lemon 
1 bunch of basil 
1 bunch of tarragon, leaves picked and stalks discarded
Olive oil
1 handful of parmesan (optional)
500g spaghetti
In a frying pan, heat a little oil and cook the shallots, fennel, garlic and chilli until nicely soft and coloured. You'll need to stir the pot throughout 

While keeping an eye on the vegetables, cook the pasta in boiled water

Add the wine to the pan and reduce the juices then add the tomatoes cook for a further 5 minutes

Drain the spaghetti and transfer them to the pan, add the mozzarella, avocado, toasted pine nuts (optional) lemon, basil, tarragon and serve with a handful of parmesan if using.

Love this recipe so much that I am sharing with #cookblogshare

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