Some recipes are so simple that you marvel at how so few ingredients can combine to such dramatically good effect. So is the case with this dish, where the rich and silky butter peppered with chilli and garlic coats the pasta and is given extra flavour from the wilted rocket and sweet basil. The whole recipe takes so little time that it has become a firm favourite of mine.
Pea, chilli and prawn casarecce with rocket
If you have children, start with a sprinkle of mild red chilli and slowly develop their palates with more as they become accustomed to its taste. If you like heat, a dried chilli will give more oomph.
Prep 15 min
Cook 15 min
Salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
½-1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
350g small cooked prawns, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
300g fresh or frozen peas
100g rocket, roughly chopped
1 handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
Parmesan or grana padano, to serve
Melt half the butter in a large frying pan over a low heat. Season generously with salt and pepper, add the garlic and chilli (if using) and gently fry until the garlic is soft, but not coloured.
Stir in the prawns and continue to cook gently until they are just warmed through, then take the pan off the heat and add half the lemon juice.
Bring a pan of generously salted water to the boil and cook the pasta, according to packet instructions, adding the peas for the final minute or two. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain.
Return the pasta to the pan over a low heat, stir in the prawn mixture, then add the remaining butter and lemon juice. Stir well for a minute or two, adding splashes of the reserved water as the liquid is absorbed back into the pasta, until you have a beautifully glossy sauce.
Stir in the rocket and basil and taste, adjusting the seasoning if needed. Take off the heat and serve immediately with some grated parmesan or grana padano, if you like.
And for the rest of the week
This makes a great starter without the pasta, served in a large earthenware dish with hunks of fresh bread to mop up the buttery juices. Whizz up any leftover rocket and basil with some olive oil and either refrigerate or freeze; drizzle over grilled vegetables or meats, beans or a grain salad.
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