Prawn and chilli pasta

Photographer: Emma
Serves 4

If by nature you are indecisive, shopping for pasta can be tricky. There are so many varieties on offer: wholemeal spaghetti (my favourite), squid ink tagliatelle, rainbow bow ties, alphabet letters and farm yard animals, even gluten free varieties made from corn, quinoa and rice (the latter of which I find difficult to see as anything but noodles).

I’m as proud as punch to say I handmade the pasta for this recipe but I’m not going to make you feel guilty for buying a pasta maker 5 years ago and using it only twice…because I’m right there with you.

It’s a reality that most of the time there isn’t time to make pasta from scratch so when I say I’m “making pasta”, in reality I’m “choosing pasta”. I know that dried isn’t the same as fresh but there are some dried varieties around that make pretty good, convenient alternatives.  I’ve found a good brand of dried pasta – it’s made with durum wheat so I can get it al dente and unlike some imported varieties which appear to have flown first class from Italy, it’s affordable.   

For this recipe, begin making the sauce in a large frying pan as you’ll be adding the pasta and prawns at the end.


2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
100g pancetta or bacon
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 x 400g can tomatoes
200ml water

20 prawns (I allow for at least 5 per person)
500g pasta

1 cup rocket
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

1 loaf ciabatta to serve


1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes.
2. Add the chilli flakes to the pan and cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
3. Turn up the heat and add the chopped bacon (or pancetta). Fry for 10 minutes.
4. Add the tomato paste, stir to combine and then add the canned tomatoes. 5. Half fill the empty tomato can with water, swirl the water round the can to pick up remains of tomato and then add to the frying pan.
5. Cook tomato sauce in the frying pan on low for at least 30 minutes to develop the flavour.

6. Bring a sauce pan of water to the boil with a generous pinch of salt. Add the pasta.

7. In another frying pan on high heat, add a little olive oil and fry the prawns for 1 minute on each side.

8. Drain the pasta and add with the prawns to the sauce. Using tongs, coat the pasta in the sauce (or if you are feeling adventurous, flip the pan so the pasta collides with the sauce).
9. Squeeze over lemon juice, add rocket and portion into four bowls.
10. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with a loaf of warm ciabatta to mop-up any remaining sauce.