Neil Perry’s simply stunning seafood platter

Simply stunning seafood platter. Seafood antipasto. Photo: William Meppem

Neil Perry’s simple vegetarian pasta.


1 whole octopus with tentacles (about 330g), cleaned

2 small whole squid with tentacles (about 330g), cleaned

450g medium green prawns, shell on

600g clams

80ml white wine

2 celery stalks, stems finely chopped, leaves kept intact

30ml lemon-infused olive oil, or to taste

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Serves 4 to 8 as part of a shared banquet

If using fresh octopus, beat it with a meat tenderiser then rinse well under cold running water, using a clean sponge to remove excess saltiness. (If using frozen octopus that has been thawed, you don’t need to do this, as freezing has the effect of tenderising it.)

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Do not salt it, as this will toughen the octopus. Add the octopus. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain well and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, bring another saucepan of water to the boil. Add the squid. Simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the prawns to the same water, simmer for 2 minutes or until they have changed colour and are just cooked. Remove, then peel 3/4 of the prawns, reserving a handful for garnish. Cut squid bodies into strips. Set aside.

Place clams and white wine in a large pan over a high heat. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally until the shells have opened. Remove from the heat and strain, reserving cooking liquid. Discard any that haven’t opened, remove the meat from the rest and discard the shells.

On a serving dish, place the, octopus, squid, prawns clams and celery. Whisk 50ml of the reserved and strained cooking liquid from the clams with lemon oil, and season to taste.

Drizzle the dressing over the seafood, scatter with the parsley and garlic, and serve immediately.


600g “00” flour

1/2 tsp salt

plain flour, for dusting

1 cup basil, firmly packed

rind of 1 lemon, finely grated

parmesan, finely grated, to serve

For zucchini sauce

200g butter, coarsely chopped

1kg zucchini, sliced 5mm thick

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Serves 4-6

Knead the flour, salt and 260ml water in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook until dough is very smooth and comes together into a ball (about 15 minutes). It may seem too dry at first, but don’t add extra water. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 5 pieces. Roll each into a cylinder on a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Roll each half into a 1cm-diameter cylinder. Cut each into 1cm pieces and dust with flour. Flatten each piece to form a long oval then press gently lengthways along the centre of each piece with a butter knife to create an indent, with the sides rolling in towards one another. Transfer cavatelli to a tray dusted with flour and repeat with remaining dough.

For the zucchini sauce, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the zucchini in batches. Stir occasionally until the zucchini is tender but the butter and zucchini are not coloured (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the garlic to pan, cook until translucent (3-4 minutes), return zucchini to pan and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in batches in salted boiling water until al dente (about 2-3 minutes). Drain, reserving 300ml pasta water, and return pasta to pan with zucchini mixture. Add 100ml pasta water, stir over medium heat for 1 minute then continue adding reserved water, 100ml at a time, and stir until zucchini is tender and liquid forms a thick sauce (about 2-3 minutes; you may not need all the reserved water).

Stir in the basil and lemon rind, season to taste and serve hot with grated parmesan.


• Use any seafood in this dish that you like; the antipasto dressing is perfect with everything. Mussels are a great substitute for the clams – just remember to clean and de-beard them.

• At this time of year, I love to open and shell mussels, mix them with chopped, boiled asparagus and sprinkle over the antipasto dressing and shaved raw fennel for a refreshing salad.

• If time and energy is short, you can replace the cavatelli with a store-bought pasta – penne works well.


ChampagneThis NV Duperrey Premier Cru Brut is a brilliant value for money champagne ($40), offering all the elegance and style of the bigger French houses. Its hints of lovely toasted brioche and crisp minerality are a joy to the palate when sipped with this luxury seafood dish.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.

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