Greek pasta Hilopitaki with shrimps and fennel bulbs
In Greece we mostly use hylopitaki* as a side dish, like rice or spaghetti. This time we decided to give it the leading role in a recipe. We cooked it like a risotto, added shrimps and fennel bulbs and the result was amazing! A light and very tasty Greek food recipe!
* Hylopitaki is the small version of hilopita/hilopites. It's a traditional Greek pasta made of flour, eggs, water, olive oil and salt. Even these days in many villages they make this type of pasta at home. If you can't find hilopitaki, don't worry; you can make this Greek recipe using Tagliatelle, Fettuccine or even Spaghetti broken into 2-3cm pieces cooking on of the best Greek meals! The Italian version of this pasta shape is Quadrettini.
- 1kg/35.2oz/2.2lb shrimps (medium or large size)
- 250gr/8.8oz hylopitaki pasta (or the pasta suggested above)
- 1,2lt (4 4/5 cups) broth from the shrimps (see Preparation below)
- 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped (80-100gr/2.8-3.5oz)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil (125ml)
- 250gr/8.8oz fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tomatoes, cut into small cubes
- salt and pepper
Preparation: If using frozen shrimps make sure they're thawed before starting. Cut their heads off and keep them for later use. Remove the shells from the tails, and the intestine within, by cutting along the back, lenghtwise(head to tail), with a sharp knife. Put 1,2lt of slightly salted water in a pot, on high heat, and once it starts boiling reduce the heat to medium and add the heads and the tails of the shrimps. Let them simmer for 2-3 minutes. Be careful: During boiling remove as much froth as you can. Remove from heat, strain the broth and leave it aside. Discard the shrimp heads and keep the tails.
Put the olive oil in a pot, and put it on high heat; add the onion and the fennel. Sautee until most of the moisture is evaporated.
Add the garlic, stir and pour the wine. Once the wine evaporates, lower the heat to medium, add the hylopitaki and stir.
Start pouring the broth slowly, following the risotto technique (adding 1/2 a cup each time, waiting to be absorbed before adding the next one), stirring continuously.
When the pasta starts to thicken (when almost all of the broth is used) add the tomatoes and one more cup of broth.
Stir and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the shrimps, give it a final stir and serve. Enjoy!
1. You can use fennel fronds instead of bulbs. The result is equally tasty!
2. You can use fresh shrimps, if you can find some. The process of cooking them is exactly the same.
3. You can serve this dish with white dry wine from Lemnos island or an Italian Frascati.