Spinach pesto, brown shrimp and monkfish cheeks

This is another happy result of having ingredients left over after a weekend of cooking the glossy supplements.

Mark Hix’s monkfish cheeks, brown shrimps and creamed spinach was great. But it required just ‘a handful’ of spinach, and only half of the shrimps I’d purchased (at great expense). Inexplicably, I’d also bought too many monkfish cheeks – the one thing I could actually have bought the exact amount required.

Bags of spinach are among the food items that get wasted most in my house. They’ve a tendency to sit perfectly fresh for days, then, suddenly, a few leaves turn mulchy and smelly and chucking the lot prevails over picking out the good bits. It’s amazing, though, how little spinach you need to make a lot of pesto. Not just that, but how quick that pesto can be whizzed up. I’ll try and pre-empt the rotting from now on and extend the spinach life span.

Brown shrimps and pasta are always a good match. I cut the monkfish cheeks into little cubes and fried them for 30 seconds before adding the shrimps, turning off the heat and then adding the contents of the pan into cooked pasta along with the pesto.

It’s a super quick dish. You could totally do without the monkfish cheeks – though you could replace them with cubed scallops should you (again inexplicably) have a couple sitting idle in your fridge. If you’ve spinach for pesto but no fish, use pancetta for your salty protein.

Recipe below the pesto

spinach pesto

Brown shrimp, monkfish cheek and spinach pesto

For 2

  • 240g dry pasta
  • 50g spinach
  • 10g parsley (optional)
  • 15g pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 a clove garlic
  • 15g parmesan, grated
  • 60g olive oil
  • Juice from 1/4 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50g brown shrimps
  • 50-100g monkfish cheeks, cut into 1cm cubes
  • Oil or butter
Boil water to cook your pasta. Add loads of salt.

Make the pesto by whizzing all the dry pesto ingredients in a food processor. Add the oil and lemon juice as the blades are turning. Blitz for about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You could, of course, multiply the ingredients and make loads of pesto – it will keep for 3 days in a sealed container.

With 5 minutes remaining for your pasta, put a small frying pan or saucepan on a medium flame. Add a dash of oil or small knob of butter. After 30 seconds, add the monkfish cheek. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the shrimps and turn the heat off. Let this rest for a minute or two.

Drain the pasta and then return the pasta to the saucepan. Pour in half of the monkfish cheeks and shrimp and any juices in the pan. Add the pesto. Stir well and serve. Garnish with the remaining shrimps and monkfish, maybe a drizzle of peppery extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.