Madness, Mangoes and Marvellously Delicious Black Pasta

Can’t think what has possessed the EU to okay the addition of animal parts to animal feed! That’s what caused the salmonella outbreak in chickens and eggs a number of  years ago – feed from Holland contained feathers, combs and other bits … chickens are not carnivores. Insects are part of their diet because of pecking the ground. BSE happened because body parts – brains and other organs – from other animals were fed to cows. Cows are not carnivores, either, although they too digest insects because they graze.

Madness, or what?

On a more cheerful note, I found some excellent black pasta in a new greengrocers – nowhere near enough to visit regularly, but still … It isn’t fresh pasta but beggars and an’ all that. The resident barista encountered a new fish shop and bought some huge prawns. Able to resist everything except temptation, I bought some mangoes – they smell delicious.

In a previous life, we used to visit a tiny family-owned pavement café which served the thinnest, crispest pizzas with a terrific selection of imaginative toppings, and pasta dishes, equally creative. Luca made his own pasta and brought squid ink from Italy to make black pasta and a dish that still makes me drool. As near as I can make, his mother’s recipe is below.

Prawns, Mangoes, Chilli and Black Pasta

approximately 60g dried black pasta per person (fresh is best but …)

300-400g/10-14ozs prawns, shell on, per person (500g/1lb.2ozs per person if you really like prawns!) Shell on makes for juicier prawns.

or 4-6 jumbo prawns without the shell, per person, more if you can eat them.

I prefer to devein prawns; won’t harm you if you can’t be bothered. It’s a visual thing for me.

100g/4ozs butter (I prefer unsalted) – more if you need it, should be plenty to coat the pasta.

4 tablespoons olive oil. Ditto.

Fresh garlic, thinly sliced or grated – as much as you think you want. I think 2-4 (large) cloves should do it.

1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced.

1 red chilli, chopped, more if you like a belter of a kick.

Large handful of chopped coriander or parsley.

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet – I find they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Melt the butter and oil (prevents burning) and add the chilli and garlic. Sauté till tender.

Add the prawns and cook while the pasta is cooking. The prawns should be a gorgeous pink on either side with flecks of chilli and garlic.

Drain the pasta, put in a heated serving bowl or plate, top with the prawns and sliced mango. Grind black pepper over them, some sea salt to taste and scatter the herbs on top.

Easy way to slice the mango: cut in half on the flat side of the stone. Slice lengthways or sideways in the first half, bend the skin back and cut away. Repeat with the other side of the stone. For the sides, peel skin off and slice away from the stone.

If you wish, you can drop some mange tout into the pasta when it is nearly cooked – the crisp and bright green peas add to the texture, taste and colour.

Serve with a green salad with everything in it except iceberg lettuce! Takes a long time to grow, a long time to digest and often the culprit for ‘marshy gases’, rather than cabbage. And I think it is tasteless – crunchy but tasteless.

A glass or two of wine will aid digestion, as will good company. Have a bowl of hot water to rinse your fingers – peeling the prawns is part of the pleasure. No lemon in the water – that is not comme il faut.





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