This is date night pasta. Whether that date is with yourself, a mate or your significant other. The kind of dish that’s impressive but very little effort so you’ll look like a whizz without getting yourself in a state. If tomatoes are in season it is beautiful with roasted Roma tomatoes stirred through, if not then just use a good quality passata. Or alternatively cherry tomatoes, halved and thrown in a pan with a little smashed garlic, chilli, oil and parsley and cooked until blistered is also great (I also make them a bit saucier (in all meanings of the word) by adding a little reserved cooking water from the pasta to loosen the tomatoes into a sauce when I do this.
This is a fresh pasta filled with lots of prawn flavour and bursts of sweetness from the cherry tomatoes. But the thing I’m really into about it is those breadcrumbs. They’re an alternative to using parmesan, my version of prangritata, and so tasty. They add the extra salty flavour hit that you want from parmesan as well as some crunch for texture. I’m not the biggest fan of seafood pastas with parmesan – sometimes it totally works but I don’t love it with the light freshness of this sauce. That said, if it’s what you’re about go ahead and chuck parmesan all over it – you’re the one eating it! And this is a judgement free zone.
I like to cook the prawns in a pan or on a grill before adding them to the sauce so that they can caramelise slightly and get a little golden colour. Deglazing the pan with a little white wine and making this part of your sauce adds a real intensity of prawn flavour.
The crunch from the garlicky bread crumbs makes this dish. it can easily be made gluten free by using your favourite gluten free products. I sometimes make my own spelt pasta to go with this dish, or for an extra protein hit you can use a lentil pasta.
I have also made it with half linguini half zucchini noodles before if I don’t want to make a side salad to go with it. Speaking of side salads something simple like spinach, rocket and parmesan dressed with olive oil and lemon juice works really well and takes very little effort!
300g prawns, peeled with tails attached.
1 birdseye chilli chopped finely
2 cloves garlic
1.5 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs fresh parsley, finely chopped (plus more for serving)
1 – 2 pieces of day old bread, processed into crumbs you need 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs.
150g dried pasta (linguini, fettucini, spaghetti all work) – can replace half with zucchini noodles
1/3 cup white wine
300g fresh tomatoes (chopped in half or quarters depending on size) or 250ml passata (you don’t want your pasta swimming in passata!)
Lemon, zested then cut into 4 wedges.
Place a large pot of salted boiling water on the heat. bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions. The prawns and tomatoes will take 5-10 minutes as a guide as to when to start cooking your pasta. When draining reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Place prawns, 1/2 clove of crushed garlic, 1 Tbs parsley, the chilli, 1/2 the lemon zest and a squeeze of 1/4 of the lemon into a bowl to marinate briefly.
Add the 1 Tbs of olive oil to a pan on medium heat. Toss through the breadcrumbs, garlic and 1 Tbs parsley. Fry breadcrumbs until just golden and crunchy, season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel.
Wipe the pan clean if necessary and then put it back on a medium to high heat. Once hot add the remaining olive oil and the prawns. Cook for a couple of minutes each side until starting to colour and just cooked through. Remove from the pan and put aside. Deglaze your pan with the white wine, boiling on a high heat for a couple of minutes to evaporate alcohol then add the remaining half clove of garlic along with the tomatoes (if using fresh) or just add the sauce (if using passata). Heat through sauce or cook tomatoes until blistering and just collapsing (you still want them to have some structure!).
Variation: if using roma tomatoes line an oven tray with baking paper, place halved tomatoes on tray drizzle in olive oil and season add place in an oven preheated to 180 degress celsius for approx 10 minutes until starting to colour. Remove from the oven and cook in pan with the garlic as per above directions.
Add prawns and pasta to the pan along with 1 Tbs of parsley and the reserved cooking water if needed. Stir to combine all ingredients and coat the pasta in the sauce.
To serve place prawns and pasta in bowls drizzle a litt olive oil over the top and top with the remaining lemon zest, extra parsley and bread crumbs.