Sardinian pasta (Malloreddus) with asparagus and sea urchins

During the Easter break, I went to visit my father who at the moment works in Belgium. Even though he works around the world, he always brings with him a stock of Italian ingredients so he can cook his favourite Sardinian food wherever he is. To make this recipe, he used canned sea urchins, which you don’t find so easily in London. You can buy them at Sardos Fine Food stall, at Tottenham Green Sunday market or at Marylebone Cabbage & Frocks Saturday market. This recipe serves four.

Ingredients (approximately):
350g malloreddus pasta
200g asparagus tips
100g canned sea urchin
2 cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley, chopped

Step 1 – Remove the hard tops from the asparagus and put into boiling water for up to five minutes (less time is needed if you like them crunchy). Remove the sea urchin meat into a container, mixing it with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Put both to one side to rest.

Step 2 – In a sauce-pan, put abundant salted water to boil. Once it’s boiling, add the Malloreddus. Malloreddus are a type of pasta very typical of Sardinia. In Italian, they are called gnocchetti, for their gnocchi shape. Actually they have nothing to do with the almost-homonymous dish and they are simply a regional variant of dry pasta traditionally made with durum wheat flour.

Step 3 – When the pasta is almost ready, heat some extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan, together with the sliced garlic. Once the garlic is golden, add the asparagus and let them fry gently at a lower heat. If ready, drain the pasta and add it to the frying pan and mix it with the asparagus, then add the sea urchin cream and turn the heat off. Mix evenly and sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving. This was really scrumptious! Bon appetit!

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