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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baked Shells with Pilchard Herring and Leeks

There are days where a can of fish and a few odd vegetables make a comfortingly exciting meal.. especially if you are intelligent enough to add a bit of spice where it belongs...
Serves 4
300g (10.6oz) pasta shells, cooked al dente
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 small leeks, washed and sliced crosswise
1 zucchini, sliced into quarter moons
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water
lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 can Herring in tomato sauce (Pilchard)
pinch fleur de sel
2 handfuls freshly grated Gruyère cheese
1 handful grated parmesan
1.  Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and and add the sliced leeks.  Cook until they start to sweat, then add the zucchini slices.
2.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the paprika, chile powder, some black pepper, and a pinch of salt.  Deglaze with the white wine.
3.  Open the can of herring (mine had 3 big ones) and remove the fish onto a plate.  Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and heat through.  If your herring is not in tomato sauce, add in about 1/4 cup crushed tomato as a sub.  You might want to add salt if you do this.
4.  While you may be waiting for cooking things to be happening, carefully open the herring with your fingers and remove the central fish bone.  This will separate them into fillets and make them more pleasant to eat with a mouthful of cheesy shells.
5.  When the shells are al dente in their cooking stage, drain but reserve some of the cooking water.
6.  Remove the leek and zucchini mixture from heat and stir in the cooking water and heavy cream.
7.  In a baking dish, place the drained pasta followed by the leek zucchini mixture.
Shake the dish a bit to have everything settle in.
Lay the herring fillets on top
Top with the cheeses
8.  Bake for 15 minutes at 200°C 400°F or until the cheese is slightly crusty.

Serve hot.. piping hot!
I don't do casseroles or baked pasta dishes very often, but when I do, I like to make it a memorable experience.

Herring fits very nicely into this picture.
I love the way I can take something from a can and make it shine.
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