Pasta tossed with a rich tomato sauce with a tingle of spicy heat and plump prawns (shrimp). This Spicy Chilli Prawn Pasta is a total crowd pleaser to make all year round, and the only thing that requires chopping is parsley. You can have this on the table in just 15 MINUTES!!!
Being an Aussie fortunate enough to have many readers from all around the world – and I really do many from all around the world (!!!!) – one of the things I’m very mindful of is sharing a selection of recipes suited to varying climates. And right now – January and February – are always the toughest months because the seasonal difference is at its most extreme. When I’m sweltering in the height of summer when it’s 40C/104F without a whisper of a breeze (reminder: I live in a house with no air conditioning!!) and I know it’s minus-something where some of you are, and you’re shovelling snow off your driveway so you can drive to work, I want to share winter comfort foods to warm your soul. But I also want to share the quick-cook fresh meals for me and all the other Aussies and readers enjoying warmer / stinking hot weather.
So newcomers to my site during Jan/Feb each year are probably very baffled when they see my latest recipes wildly swinging between hot winter soups and stews and summery salads and cocktails!
That’s a long winded way of leading into why I’m happy to be sharing a (fairly) climate neutral recipe today!!! Sure, pasta is probably not the first thing you think of when it’s really REALLY stinking hot. But generally, I’ll make quick-cook pastas like this Spicy Chilli Prawn Pasta all year round.
There are prawn pastas, then there are prawn pastas. A serious proper sauce for prawn pastas is simmered for hours and hours using the heads and shells of the prawns. If you want to try a restaurant style one, try this Lemon Prawn Pasta which is made using this technique.
This one is not one of those serious prawn pastas. This is pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum – but without sacrificing flavour. If you follow my recipe directions exactly, this honestly takes 15 minutes to make. And if I do say so myself, it is darn tasty thanks to a little secret ingredient in the sauce: Anchovies.
Yes. Anchovies. No, you can’t taste any anchovy fishiness. It just dissolves in the sauce and adds that extra umami* which takes this quick sauce from “nice” to “OMG this is so good!!!”
* Regular readers know I don’t usually throw around fancy foodie words, but in this case I don’t know how else to describe that savouriness that anchovies brings to this sauce other than to to say it adds an extra umami to it. So umami, which is actually a Japanese word, means “savoury taste” which, together with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness, make up the 5 basic tastes.
In addition to the little extra something the anchovy brings to the sauce, the hit of heat from the dried chilli flakes works wonders too. For me, those two elements make this a sneaky little recipe to keep in your back pocket to whip out on busy weeknights and also when you’re having company. Impress the pants off your family and friends, and hold back that smug smile knowing that it was actually a total breeze to make. But lap up the compliments. You totally deserve it. 😉 – Nagi x
PS I know most of you already know, but Prawns in Australia and other Commonwealth countries = Shrimp in other countries. ??
PPS Does anyone know who is responsible for prawns vs shrimp, coriander vs cilantro, scallions vs green onions vs shallots, courgettes vs zucchini, Fahrenheit vs Celsius? I’d like a word with them.?
PPPS Notice all the sauce is stuck on the pasta so it all ends up in your mouth, not sitting in a pool at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t skip step 6!
- 180 g / 6 oz fettuccine or other pasta or choice
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 150 - 180 g / 5 - 6 oz medium prawns/shrimp , peeled and deveined
- 2 anchovies , whole (or 1/2 tsp anchovy paste)
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tsp+ chilli fakes / red pepper flakes
- 1 cup / 250 ml tomato passata (Note 2)
- 2 tsp finely grated parmesan
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley , plus more to serve
Get all the ingredients out and ready to go - this recipe moves fast!
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a big pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook for the time per the packet MINUS 1 minute. SCOOP OUT a mugful of pasta cooking water before draining pasta (or transfer it straight from pot into sauce, if you time it right).
Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add prawns and cook for 30 seconds, until surface just changes from translucent to opaque.
Add red pepper flakes and anchovies. Stir briefly, then add wine and garlic.
Cook for 30 seconds until wine is mostly evaporated.
Add tomato passata, squeeze of lemon juice, parmesan, salt and pepper. Bring to simmer, turn heat down to medium and cook sauce for 1 minute, stirring frequently (don't cook for long otherwise will overcook prawns).
Add pasta, about 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water and parsley. Toss gently for 1 minute (or gently stir with wooden spoon or tongs) until sauce re-thickens and it coats the pasta.
Adjust salt, pepper and spiciness to taste. Serve immediately with more parsley.
1. Truly great prawn / shrimp pastas are made with sauces that are simmered for hours using the prawn heads and shells. In this quick midweek version, I compensate for the lack of hours of simmering with anchovies and parmesan, both of which are used to add "umami" (being a savoury taste, one of the 5 taste sensations) to the sauce. It does not taste fishy at all, no one will guess there are anchovies in this! It just adds that extra special something to the sauce. 🙂 If you REALLY can't stand it, yes you can leave it out, still super tasty!!!
Traditionally, seafood pastas are not served with parmesan (it is "illegal" in Italy!) but in this case, the parmesan is not about adding a cheesy finish to the pasta, it's about adding savouriness into the sauce.
2. If you really can't find tomato passata, 400g/14oz of crushed canned tomato can be substituted. But I urge you to find it - once you try it once, you'll understand why I'm such a huge fan of it! It costs around the same as canned tomato.
3. The order in which I add things in this recipe is a bit different to the norm but there's a reason for it! I find because the skillet is so hot and there's lots of space around the prawns, the garlic burns too quickly so I add it later after the wine to get good garlic flavour in the sauce.
4. Nutrition per serving.
Spicy Chilli Prawn Pasta recipe video!
LIFE OF DOZER
He shamelessly trades off his looks.