Do you remember the joy of eating spaghetti bolognese when you were a child? Twirling it around your fork and trying to get it in your mouth before it landed in your lap… I absolutely loved it. My mum did the laundry back then, so it didn’t matter if I made a terrible mess in the process. Not that I would let food escape uneaten that often, you understand.
As an adult I rarely eat “long” pasta like spaghetti or, as in this case, linguine. I’ve not lost the knack of getting a generous fork-full from plate to mouth in one go. Nor am I worried about stains down my shirt. I’m still a greedy so and so… It’s not the pasta’s fault either. I’ve outgrown it. I don’t find it fun any more. So what’s gone wrong? Noodles are still fun. Indeed, I’d gladly chase one of those around a plate with a pair of chopsticks. Why should pasta be any different?
It comes back to where I started. Spaghetti Bolognese. The spaghetti did nothing wrong. It’s the sauce that’s to blame. I’m not going to go off on a tangent about its inauthenticity as a dish – you can read about that in your own time. The issue for me is that it’s easy to get right but even easier to get wrong. For every rich, flavoursome ragù I’ve probably had five bland, watery oil slicks with a heap of pasta in the middle. When you know it’s more likely to be bad than good you give up on trying.
However, the long pasta varieties can lend themselves to some quick and delicious meals. Such as this Prawn, Chilli and Garlic Linguine. Here a thick, rice and spicy tomato sauce clings to each strand. Nestled almong them are sweet prawns and peppery rocket. It’s bright and fresh and bold and full of colour. The red and green on a white plate is just like the Italian flag.
That linguine is waiting for you to get your fork stuck in there. It wants to be twirled. What’s stopping you?
Prawn, Chilli & Garlic Linguine
- 150 g Dried Linguine
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 Red Chilli deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 Lemon juiced and zested
- 200 g Raw Peeled Prawns
- 50 ml Vermouth
- 1 tsp Tomato Purée
- 25 g Rocket leaves
- Cook the linguine in a large pan of boiling water until al dente (refer to the instructions on the pack for cooking times, but make sure you don’t overcook it). Drain well, reserving a small amount of the starchy cooking water for later, and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli to the pan and stir fry until fragrant. This should take 30 seconds to a minute, but do make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add the lemon zest to the pan, then stir it into the garlic and chilli, before adding the prawns. Cook for 4-5 minutes until they’ve turned pink and are cooked through. Add the vermouth and tomato purée to the pan – allow the liquid to bubble and reduce to a thickened glaze on the prawns. Add the lemon juice and then remove from the heat.
- Add the cooked pasta to the prawn mixture, along with the rocket leaves, the remaining olive oil and a splash of the pasta cooking water. Toss together until the pasta is coated with the sauce and the rocket has slightly wilted.
- Divide between two bowls, making sure the prawns are well distributed. Garnish with a little more rocket and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.