This is one of my favourite supper dishes – easy and quick to make for one; easy to make for two, or three or more … I always have tomatoes on hand (see my Top Ten Ingredients), keep raw prawns in the freezer and am never without pasta – though linguine is best for this dish. I like to use fresh tomatoes too; tinned have their place, especially in pasta sauces, but in this case I think the fresh taste of fresh tomatoes makes all the difference to the dish. I’ve made this dish countless times over the years but for the first time tonight added some cream. I had cream left over from making the tagliatelle dish the other night and when I opened the fridge and saw it, I thought, Why not give it a go? And it worked really well – but don’t think of it as essential; it is a slightly different sauce without the cream – less rich and fresher – but they are equally good so there’s no need to specially buy cream to make this dish.
Linguine with Prawns in Fresh Tomato & Chilli Sauce
Cook some linguine in plenty of salted boiling water. I use about 100g per portion and it needed 11 minutes of cooking – so you probably want to get it going at more or less the same time as starting the sauce.
Pour about two tablespoons of olive oil into a pan with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes – depending on how hot you like your food. Once the oil is hot add some raw prawns – I can only say, the number you think is enough for a single portion! (N.B. If you’re using frozen prawns be sure to thoroughly defrost before cooking.) The prawns need only a minute of two of cooking so stay with them. Once you can see them turning pink on the underside, flip them over with a spoon and finish cooking. Then transfer them to a plate. Prawns that are even slightly overcooked become rubbery – and not nice. So that’s why it’s best to cook them first like this, then add them to the sauce right at the end just as you are ready to serve.
Now add 2 skinned and roughly chopped large tomatoes to the pan and stir. Once it bubbles up a bit add a good splash of white wine (if you have some open) or dry vermouth. Also add a generous squeeze of tomato puree. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes or so for the alcohol in the wine to evaporate, the tomatoes to soften and the sauce reduce a bit. Add about 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley. Check seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper. (You can turn it off at this point and wait a little while for the last part – especially if you’re cooking for others and not quite ready.) Then, when the linguine is ready, add the prawns and a nice drizzle of cream (if using) to the sauce and stir.
Now add the linguine and gently fold it all in together so the sauce is coating the pasta nicely – then serve! It’s just the most delicious combination of flavours: the soft bite of the pasta, the salty sweetness of the prawns, the freshness of tomatoes and that great chilli kick to give it all a fabulous lift.