My festive garlic prawn and butter pasta is the kind of vibe we all need right now. With red and green confetti speckled through the pasta, it looks like someone has opened a Christmas cracker over the top. Rendering the prawn shells packs the dish full of flavour. The addition of tomato paste concentrate helps lift the umami hit. Enjoy with fresh or dried pasta, long or short. I'm particularly fond of Pipette for this dish as the prawn meat hides inside the curves.
Beautiful pasta bowl by Alex & Trahanas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 green prawns in shells *see note
25 g butter
3 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 small (birds eye) red chilli, deseeded, finally chopped
1 tbs tomato paste concentrate (I like Mutti)
½ cup dry white wine (can also use a great seafood stock or a combo of both)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Handful parsley, finely chopped
Pasta for two of your choice
Cut prawn heads off, peel, remove tail and deveined, reserving shells and head. Roughly chop up prawn meat and set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a lively boil. Season as salty as the sea. Cook pasta until molto (very) al dente. We will finish the pasta off in the sauce.
Add olive oil to a deep fry pan over medium-low heat, add prawn shells and heads, fry the shells until golden and all the delicious flavours have rendered out, roughly 5 or so minutes. I like to squish down on the head and shells to help coax out the flavour. Remove shells and heads and discard. You should be left with a fragrant orange oil. Add butter and melt. As soon as it’s melted, throw in garlic, chilli and cook for about 1 minute. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook for further 30 seconds. Then add your wine or stock. Season. Leave to simmer away for 5 minutes before adding your prawn meat. Cook for 1 minute (they’ll cook quickly) before tossing in your pasta, a splash of cooking water (about ¼ cup but will depend on pasta – always reserve more than you need), lemon zest and a good squeeze of juice. Simmer for 1 minute to allow pasta to soak up the flavours. You want things to be lovely and loose, and a little juicy. Taste, adjust seasoning, balance. Taste again. Throw in parsley, toss and turn off heat. Serve and finish off with an extra drizzle of oil just to say I love you, and Merry Christmas.
Note: If you can't get whole green prawns with their shells to make the oil, add a 1/4 cup of seafood stock (and slightly reduce the wine) to your sauce to help carry that flavour of the sea through.