Food 2020 – Recipes (Ragoût of Crayfish, Girolles, Fregola Pasta, Courgettes and Watercress Cream)

Saturday 8th August, 2020 – Recipes (Ragoût of Crayfish, Girolles, Fregola Pasta, Courgettes and Watercress Cream)

Sometimes I get carried away with myself and end up buying stuff that then needs to be dealt with in quite labour intensive ways! A case in point is when the Scandi Kitchen’s repeated adverts for crayfish season prove too much to resist and I buy a batch of them. At least this year and I only bought one box of frozen Turkish crustaceans. A box is sufficent for two people and takes up a large amount of space in the freezer. A box is also not cheap.

This recipe is superb, and of course the further upside is that you have a load of shells leftover that can be transformed into a shellfish bisque and used in future soups, ragouts and fish casseroles (in which case you can skip Step 2 and throw the shells into a bag in the freezer).

I should also mention that although there’s quite a lot of work in this, you can do things like cook the fregola, and cut up and salt the courgettes well in advance of serving the dish. And if you’re using ready cooked crayfish, as I was, just assemble the whole thing apart from the crayfish and then reheat it and add the crayfish in the last couple of minutes to heat through.

Ragoût of crayfish, girolles, fregola pasta, courgettes and watercress cream

Prep: 30 mins to 1 hour
Cooking: 30 mins to 1 hour
Serves: 4


For the ragoût
  • 16 crayfish
  • 200g fregola pasta (very small pasta shapes, available from some Italian delis)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 110g girolle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml crayfish stock (made from the crayfish shells above), or alternatively use ready-made fish stock
  • 25g butter
  • 1 courgette, cut into small cubes and salted in a colander
  • handful fresh flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ lemon, juice only
For the watercress cream
  • 1 large bunch watercress, leaves picked
  • 110ml double cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. For the ragoût, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the crayfish. Boil for one minute, then drain and leave to cool slightly. Crack open the shells and remove the tail meat. Reserve the shells and set the tail meat aside.
  2. Place the reserved crayfish shells into a pan and cover with 750mls water. Bring to the boil and boil until reduced by a third (you will need 500mls of crayfish stock). Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl and set aside.
  3. Bring another pan of salted water to the boil. Add the fregola pasta and cook for five minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the olive oil and the crayfish tails and fry for 20 seconds. Add the girolles, shallots and thyme and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry for one minute.
  5. Add the crayfish stock and bring to the boil.
  6. Stir in the butter. Rinse the courgettes of the excess salt and add to the pan, along with the parsley. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the lemon juice and stir.
  7. Meanwhile, for the watercress cream, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the watercress. Drain and refresh in iced water.
  8. Place the drained watercress into a food processor and blend to a purée.
  9. Place the cream into a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add the watercress purée to the bowl and fold in. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  10. To serve, divide the ragoût among four serving bowls and spoon over the watercress cream.

Enjoy in the garden, with cocktails beforehand and a good bottle of wine to accompany it! You can thank me later…

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