“For me, the way I know how to show someone I love them is by making them a big old bowl of pasta, so when I think about the best meals for Valentine’s Day there always has to be a rich and luscious pasta. Adding prawns elevates it for the special occasion while also keeping it familiar.” – Chef Vanessa Miller
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Prawn & Fresno Chili Pasta
For the prawns:
- 6 head on prawns (can substitute any size shrimp if prawns not available)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the pasta:
- 1/2 lb spaghetti or other noodle
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 fresno chili (red jalapeno), seeds removed and sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup sliced white onion
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 lemon
- purple basil (or regular basil)
- salt to taste
For the prawns: Combine all ingredients in bowl and let sit at least 30 minutes to marinate the prawns. Can marinate up to 48 hours in refrigerator.
Warm a saute pan over medium heat. Remove prawns from marinade, and gently cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until pink and firm to the touch. Err on the side of low heat and a longer cook time, high heat will cause the prawns to toughen up and become chewy. Prawns are done when the outside is pink and the insides are opaque and warmed through.
For the pasta: Add oil to sauté pan over medium heat; add garlic and onions and sweat, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add tomatoes and fresnos and continue to sweat over medium heat for additional 2-3 minutes (add full pepper for maximum spice, half pepper for medium spice, and just a few pieces for a small kick). Add 2 cups of water to pan and continue to simmer until tomatoes have burst open, half of water has evaporated, and sauce has started to thicken. Add salt to taste.
Cook pasta until al dente (should have just lost its crunch); strain and add pasta and 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water to the pan with the tomatoes. Let pasta continue cooking in the sauce until sauce is completely reduced/thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat, add butter and stir until melted. Squeeze in lemon juice, do a final salt check, then split pasta between two bowls for serving. Top with 3 prawns each and finish with some fresh basil leaves over top. Done and done!