Sunday linguine with shrimp

An Italian friend was visiting Accra, and offered to come over and cook Sunday lunch. It was delicious! He had bought the shrimp that morning at the fish market in Jamestown. I am counting down to Italian summer holidays by the sea, so this was perfect. I do moan about the lack of fresh seafood in Accra, being on the coast and in Gulf of Guinea as we are, but it does exist: getting fresh shrimp just takes a bit of detective work and effort.

Sunday linguine with shrimp

50 ml olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Pinch of chili flakes
1 kg fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
7 or 8 medium plum tomatoes, diced

Pinch of salt
500 grammes dry linguine

To serve: Small handful chopped fresh parsley

Put the pasta water on and start the pasta. Heat the olive oil and sauté the chopped garlic. Tip in the diced tomatoes. Finally, let the shrimp cook gently in the tomato sauce for just a few minutes. Toss sauce and linguine, and serve at once, with a bit of fresh parsley and cold white wine.

Note: the tomatoes seem to have vanished into the pasta, but it was delicious!



Pasta alla Genovese two times


My flatmate is having a birthday dinner tonight, and the flat is festooned with banners, balloons: it looks to be a lovely evening. A friend is back from Tanzania and asked to come over to do laundry (he is in a hotel) last night, so while the laundry was being done he helped with the decor, and made dinner. Very much appreciated. He had planned to make pasta alla Genovese (pasta with potatoes, pesto and green beans) but had had not had time to shop. But we had all the ingredients! Only Ghanaian sweet potatoes, but that worked out just fine too.

I had made this a couple months ago, and was curious to see if our friend cooked it all in one pot. It’s all about the timing and how finely the vegetables are cut. Ideally the order is diced potato, then pasta, then green beans, but I rarely get the timing quite right. Here is a Nigella recipe explaining it well, she even makes the pesto. Here’s the BBC Good Food version. This is a very forgiving dish, and very satisfying.

Pasta alla Genovese

500 grams potatoes (peeled and diced in finger-thick pieces)
500 grams pasta of your choice
200 grams fine green beans (trimmed and cut in half)
160-200 grammes pesto
a little starchy cooking water
grated cheese to serve (parmesan or grana padano)

Bring a big pot of water to the boil, add salt (more than a pinch, less than a handful: q.b. as Italians say, quanto bisogno or as much as you need.) You want the pasta, beans and potatoes all to be done at the same time, which is why I sometimes do this in two pots (even three, which is terrible).  Look at the pasta cooking time and estimate as well as you can. If you feel brave, the all in one pot: diced potatoes first, then pasta, then green beans 4-5 minutes before the end. Drain, stir pesto through, and with a cooking water if it looks dry at all, and serve. With a little grated cheese if you like, and a little more salt pepper for me.


Notes: Top one is the one I cooked, this one is cooked by my friend. Both very nice! It should be linguine or spaghetti, or trofie, but I have had several versions and this is the pasta that was on hand. The first time I had this, an Italian friend made it with penne, with beans cut same length as the pasta. I use a little extra pesto as I usually make extra for my packed lunch the next day.

It is rainy season in Ghana and not too hot, but humid: I find mildew on cupboard doors, lunch bags, oven mitts, suitcases….. I wipe it off with vinegar and hope for the best.


Not all roadside gutters are cleared out well, which increases risk of flooding. We live in a higher area, with no flooding danger. I am enjoying the cooler weather though, and the occasional walk home. I am also counting down to holidays in Italy, which will be nice (despite heatwave there at present). The Roman papers are moaning about the  caldo africano”  but we are used to worse in West Africa, and I am really looking forward to some days of Italian summer.  And Italian summer food!

Cherry pancakes


Back in Accra, counting down to holidays. It’s a nice cool Sunday and I have been doing some DIY, fastening the TV to brackets and hoping they hold. There are pillows strategically placed on the floor in case of sudden bracket failure… No need for much groceries as I leave again in ten days, though the thought of yet another overnight flight is not appealing. I had a small box of fresh cherries, brought from Rome, and had plans for a clafoutis today before they go moldy. However, a flatmate is roasting a chicken and it is resting in the oven while she is at yoga (as it is not quite done), so a tortilla-style cherry pancake was the solution. This was breakfast today, and will be dessert in my lunchbox the next few days.

Cherry pancakes (2 large ones)

2 medium eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder

1 cup pitted cherries
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp butter

Mix all ingredients for batter and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. I was hungry and did not wait, which made these a little rubbery. Next time, patience!

Tip half the cherries in a hot skillet with a teaspoon of butter and a teaspoon of sugar. Gently fry them for a few minutes, then pour half the batter over. Once the pancake is set and hopefully slightly golden, slide it on to a dinner plate. Quickly invert the plate and slide it back into the skillet. This was quite a robust pancake, easy to do. Cook until you think it is cooked through. Then repeat with the other cherries and remaining batter.


Note: Not so pretty, and I had no icing sugar to tastefully dust over it, but tasty. These cherries are very sweet, otherwise you might want to add a bit of sugar in the batter. A little vanilla sugar or almond paste might be nice with these.

As usual I came back from Rome with well-packed suitcases: for friends, biscotti, parmesan, stroopwaffels. For me: ant traps, muesli, running shoes, olive oil, capers, migraine medications. Availability of items has gotten much better in Accra, by all means, but quality and cost of imported goods can be an issue. Now I’ll be looking for some nice Ghanaian products to take back on holiday: local chocolate, plaintain chips (Sankofa ones are very nice), and dried mango.