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  • Writer's pictureLydia Gerratt

Spaghetti agli scampi (prawns)

Spaghetti agli scampi (prawns)

Did you know it’s the prawn shells that release the savoury seafood taste which works so well with the sweetness of the prawn meat? The shells are full of the naturally occurring umami compound called glutamate. When you cook prawns, even for just a few minutes with their shells on, they take the flavour of the dish to a higher level of serious deliciousness.

My best friend’s mum cooked this dish for me when I visited them in Liguria about 15 years ago. Patrizia’s family is from a long line of Ligurians, living on the coast between Genoa and the Cinque Terre. Cooking fish and seafood is in their blood and they know how to create the most amazing dishes with just a handful of ingredients.

Seafood is an incredible source of omega 3. These are the essential fatty acids that are vital for developing your child’s brain. There are not that many dishes that are this easy to make, are so more-ish that you children run to the table for dinner and are super good for you – it’s a keeper!

Miraculous ingredients: Santini baby plum tomatoes (M&S sells this variety), raw prawns in their shells, good quality spaghetti (Guiseppe Cocco is a very good brand)

Spaghetti agli scampi (prawns)


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 fresh birds eye red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

400g Santini baby plum tomatoes cut in half

15g fresh parsley, finely chopped

250g raw prawns in their shells

350g spaghetti (good quality Italian pasta – I use Giuseppe Cocco)

½ cup pasta water


Place a large pan that can hold a good 3 litres of water onto a high heat. When the water starts to boil add a teaspoon of salt and all the spaghetti.

Put a dry medium size frying pan on a low heat to warm up as you get the ingredients ready. Add all the extra virgin olive oil to the warm pan and fry the chopped garlic and chilli for about 20 seconds.

Add the halved baby plum tomatoes and stir. Increase the heat to high. Stir and press down on the tomatoes with a wooden spatula to hurry up the cooking.

The tomato sauce is ready when all the tomatoes have broken down and released a lot of tomato juice to create a sauce. Add all the chopped parsley and stir. Place each prawn in the pan with the tomato sauce. Cook for 2 minutes, the prawn will turn pink on its underside when cooked. Turn all the prawns over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Don’t be tempted to keep cooking the prawns for too long otherwise they will become dry and bullet hard.

When the spaghetti is cooked al dente (soft on the outside but slightly hard in the middle), lift the spaghetti out of its water with a pasta spoon and put it into the pan with the sauce. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to help create a sauce (the starch in the pasta water thickens the sauce). Stir well.

Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking 10 minutes, serves 4

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