Sometimes, you have multiple things to celebrate in a short space of time. Like having an award winning Chocolate Beer Jam. Or having it confirm that your recipe will be included in a cookbook. Or having a birthday. And all of those things individually might require a toast…but together, they definitely do. And sometimes, you somehow are left with a half bottle of bubbles when such an occasion arises. I am a little funny about drinking bubbles after the day I open them. Even though we have an incredible re-corking stopper, it’s just something I don’t enjoy as much after the fact. And so I was left with a little champagne (in reality, sparkling wine, but I’m gonna be fancy and call it champagne) that I couldn’t bear to waste. Well, cooking with it seems like the best use!
I’d seen (and eaten) quite a few champagne cupcakes in the last few months. Seems like quite the trend in Perth at the moment! But I wanted dinner, not cupcakes!
My next thought went to my gin and crab pasta, and then to the good deal of seafood pastas with vodka sauces over the years and thought that a seafood pasta sauce was definitely the go. But, I wanted the flavour of the champagne to shine through. It’s not as strong a flavour as the gin, so I didn’t want a thick creamy sauce, so I went with a buttery base. I added some delicious Shark Bay Prawns, and some finely sliced yellow squash for a mellow, summery addition. All complimentary, but subtle flavours. And here’s the kicker. Vanilla. Adding a vanilla bean to the reducing champagne takes this from tasty to next level delicious. It adds a sweetness that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you’d immediately notice it’s absence. Trust me on this. Then you’ll probably want to open another bottle of bubbles to drink with the dish. And you might end up with a little leftover…
This is a very simple dish with very few ingredients, so it pays for them to be good quality. I recommend using fresh spaghetti if you can, and although my champagne was day old, it was still good champagne. You can use anything you would ordinarily drink. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but given the scope of sweetness and dryness you get in sparklings, make it something you enjoy drinking.
Oh, and the last note I will add is that this dish comes together really quickly once you start cooking. I’d say it’s maybe a 15 minute meal. So prep all your ingredients first, get your pasta water boiling (especially if you have dried pasta) and then begin cooking. I used salted butter as that’s what I had, so I needed less salt than you will if you use unsalted.
Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
1 ½ cups champagne (sparkling wine)2 shallots, finely diced
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 vanilla bean
125g butter, cubed.
Salt and pepper
500g fresh pasta
250g peeled prawns
4 yellow squash, very finely sliced
Chopped parsley to serve
Red chilli flakes (optional)
More champagne to drink with it!
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
In a large sautee pan, pour in the champagne, shallots and garlic and a little pepper. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan, then throw the pod in too. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and keep it simmering until it’s reduced by half. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk well after each addition to blend into the sauce. Stir well for a further 1-2 minutes to thicken the sauce, then discard the vanilla pod and add the squash slices and prawns. Check for seasoning.
Put the fresh pasta into the boiling water.
Stir the prawns and squash into the sauce well, coating in the sauce and allowing to cook through. 2-3 minutes. At this point, your pasta should also be cooked, using tongs, pull the spaghetti into the sauce, allowing some (not too much) cooking water to come with it. Stir well to coat all the noodles in the sauce and blend the cooking liquid in.