Pasta with prawns and tomato sauce

This is one of my own recipes again, and is largely a pantry dish, plus a couple of hardy bits from the veg drawer. There’s about ten minutes of prep, and it means dinner is on the table half an hour after I take my coat off.

If I haven’t managed to be organized enough to take a few raw prawns out of the freezer that morning, I give a handful of them the cold water treatment to defrost quickly. One small onion, or a big shallot and a small rib of celery get quite finely chopped while the pan heats. Two tablespoons of oil into the pan, and in with the chopped veg and a pinch of salt. Boil the kettle for the pasta.

While they’re getting a wiggle on, peel and finely slice some garlic. One fat clove at least, bearing in mind that prawns love garlic, and slicing gives a sweeter, milder garlic flavour than crushing/pulverising.

Get the pasta saucepan to the boil, with a good dose of salt. Add the garlic to the pan, and watch for browning – we don’t want that as it makes it bitter.

Add a jar of passata to the pan, stir, and let slowly bubble for a few minutes, then lower the temperature so it doesn’t get too thick as the pasta cooks. I add pepper and dried parsley as I’ve no fresh. It’s not something I keep in the fridge without a purpose as it goes off so fast.

Pasta into the pot, stir and bring back to the boil.

This is my most regular pasta brand. It’s tasty, very reliable and regularly either half price or BOGOF in the supermarket. I also like that the only plastic is a teeny window. This is a new shape to the shop and my press.

While the pasta boils, peel the prawns if needed. I don’t use a lot of them – they go a long way in this dish. I use about 4/5 per adult. Make sure they’re dry before they go in the sauce or they get a bit waterlogged and don’t absorb the lovely flavours in the same way.

Prawns need very little actual cooking time. When the pasta has 2-3 minutes left, I add to the sauce. I keep a cup of the pasta water before I drain the pot, just in case it’s needed to loosen the sauce.

Add the pasta to the pan and turn the heat off. For long pasta I like to use tongs to get everything evenly coated. Check seasoning. Add a little of the water if it seems too thick or sticky.

Serve with black pepper, but skip the cheese for authenticity.

Great with a glass of vino (or two!) to start the weekend, or for a casual dinner with friends.

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