My Dad grew up in South End, more specifically Leigh on Sea. And if Leigh on Sea is known for one thing, it’s cockles. When we were kids he’d take us down to the cockle sheds to pick up a cone, smother them in black pepper and vinegar and then throw them down our gullets. I loved it.
Ever since then, these weird little crustaceans have had a place in my heart.
But there is some bad news, my Girlfriend can’t stand them. She really doesn’t like them, and that bothered me, so I set about trying to sneak them into her food until eventually she would succumb to their fresh salty deliciousness. It took a while but eventually I won, and this was the recipe that won me back my cockles.
A fistful of spaghetti
1 glug of oil
1 shallot (or half an onion) thinly sliced.
1 handful of pine nuts
¼ lb of cockles
½ a bag of spinach
Salt & pepper to taste
1 splosh of Balsamic vinegar
Get the pasta on first, add the spaghetti to a pan of boiling water with a good sprinkle of salt and a splash of oil. Next add a glug of oil to a pan and warm through before adding in he chopped shallot.
Gently fry the shallot until slightly softened and then throw in the pine nuts. Once they have started to brown a tiny bit turn the heat down and add in the cockles and spinach. Pop a lid on the pan for 2 minutes (or until the spinach has begun to wilt).
Hopefully by now the pasta is almost ready. When it is suitably soft, strain off the water and add pour the cockle pan into the pasta pan. While it is still hot, crack an egg into the pasta and stir thoroughly until the whole dish is glossy and smooth.
Serve it up in big portions, season well and drizzle with balsamic. And who knows, you might even start liking cockles.