This flavour-packed 20-minute chilli garlic prawn pasta is the perfect comfort food with a delightful kick for those busy weeknights.
In this recipe, the pasta is cooked to perfection (al dente) and tossed in a mouthwatering spicy tomato-based sauce packed with succulent prawns bursting with flavour.
For an elevated freshness, sprinkle some parsley on top before serving and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for good measure. Parmesan cheese? Why not, take things up a notch.
It's also a great choice for an impressive, fuss-free dinner party!
Love a speedy pasta dinner? Check out my 15-min spicy sausage pasta.
- Raw prawns (shrimp) - opt for peeled and deveined raw prawns and dinner will be ready in no time! However, if you've got the time and patience to peel and devein prawns yourself, I strongly encourage you to. I find prawns taste a lot more flavoursome when peeled at home. Visit my garlic prawn pasta post for how to peel and devein prawns.
- Ripe tomatoes - for maximum flavour! This is the ideal recipe to use up any super-ripe tomatoes if you happen to have any around. Alternatively, use a can of whole or chopped tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes will work brilliantly too, like my creamy prawn pasta recipe.
- Linguine - alternatively, spaghetti, fettuccine or your choice of pasta shape.
- Tomato paste - to give the tomato-based sauce a boost of colour and flavour intensity.
- Chilli flakes - can use chilli powder or fresh chilli. Just what you have on hand!
Aside from the fact that this chilli tomato prawn linguine is super delicious, it is also super quick and easy to make!
My trick to flavourful prawns (aside from peeling them myself) is by seasoning them before cooking.
Good news, prawns absorb flavours very quickly so you don't have to marinate them for long at all. Just 5 minutes before cooking is sufficient for tasty prawns!
So to start, season prawns with minced garlic, paprika, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Then, cook linguine according to packet instructions.
Pro tip: use plenty of boiling water and season the water generously with salt. You want the water to taste fairly salty. Don't worry, only very little salt will be absorbed into the pasta. This is key to a flavoursome pasta dish through and through - no bland pasta here!
Make the tomato prawn pasta sauce
Whilst the pasta is cooking, time to make the succulent prawns in a spicy tomato sauce.
In a large pan, sear the seasoned prawns over high heat, in a single layer. Avoid overlapping to achieve even colouring (and therefore, flavour).
1 minute per side is all you'll need. Then, remove the prawns from the pan and set it aside.
To make the chilli tomato sauce for the pasta, in the same pan, add olive oil, minced garlic and tomato paste. Sizzle on medium heat until garlic is lightly golden.
Sizzling or 'cooking out' tomato paste on the pan creates complexity, making the paste richer in flavour and taking away that undesired tartness.
Then, add chopped tomatoes, brown sugar, chilli flakes, salt and pepper.
Mix well and simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes. Mix and squash the tomatoes with the back of the spatula halfway through.
Add pan-seared prawns back into the pan with finely chopped fresh parsley. Give it a quick 10-second mix for them to get to know each other.
Add pasta and toss
By now, the pasta should be cooked to al dente (a little firm, literally translates to "to the tooth" in Italian).
Add drained pasta directly into the spicy prawn pasta sauce along with a little pasta cooking water. About half a cup.
Keep the heat on low and toss the pasta through the sauce until it's silky and well integrated into the pasta.
Taste and adjust for seasoning (salt, pepper or chilli) if desired.
To serve, sprinkle with a little finely chopped fresh parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some parmesan cheese if desired.
Keep a little saucer of chilli flakes at the dinner table for those who like their food extra spicy!
That's it! Chilli garlic prawn pasta in a delicious tomato-based sauce done in 20 minutes.
Useful tips and tricks
- Buy large, unpeeled prawns for maximum flavour! it's always more satisfying biting into large, juicy prawns so buy the largest you can afford. If you've got the time, peel the prawns yourself as they're always more flavoursome than the peeled ones you buy from the shops.
- Use ripe, juicy tomatoes otherwise, opt for cherry tomatoes, canned tomatoes or passata. This recipe works best when the tomatoes are nice and ripe.
- Generously season pasta cooking water to avoid bland bites of pasta.
- Reserve half a cup of pasta cooking water. The starchy pasta cooking water helps loosen the pasta sauce and since it's already salted, it won't 'bland out' the sauce.
Technically no, as it's not harmful to ingest the small digestive tracks of prawns. However, I highly recommend you do it as it does have a slightly unpleasant gritty texture.
No. However, it is best to quickly rinse it to wash off any remnants of the veins/digestive tracks which has a gritty texture.
The trick here is to quickly sear the prawns over high heat to develop depth of flavour then remove them from the pan. Only add the prawns back in the sauce just before the pasta, at the last minute. I also like to use a stopwatch and pan sear for exactly 1 minute per side in case I lose track of time.
Leftovers and storage
Fridge storage: keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container. Nonetheless, I always aim to finish any leftover seafood dishes the next day as they never taste as good by day 3.
Freezer: I do not recommend freezing this chilli garlic prawn pasta or any prawn dishes (even prawn dumplings). This is because the vast majority of prawns you buy from your fishmonger or supermarkets have already been frozen beforehand (immediately after being caught) to maintain their freshness. It is not recommended to freeze seafood more than once for health and safety reasons.
Made this recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below.
I'd love to hear from you. 🙂
Chilli Garlic Prawn Pasta
- 300 g (⅔ lb) raw prawns (shrimp) thawed, peeled, deveined (note 1)
- 300 g (⅔ lb) linguine or spaghetti
- 500 g (1 lb) fresh tomatoes ~4 large, ripe, diced (note 2 for substitutes)
- 1 cup fresh parsley finely chopped, about a handful
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon dried chilli flakes or adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar or white sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon olive oil optional: extra to serve
Prawn (shrimp) seasoning
- 1 glove garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika sweet or smokey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
To serve (optional)
- fresh parsley finely chopped
- chilli flakes
- extra virgin olive oil
- parmesan cheese
- Combine prawns with prawn seasoning ingredients. Mix well and set aside.
- Cook linguine according to packet instructions (remember to generously season the cooking water with salt). Cook to al dente.
- Whilst the pasta is cooking, pan sear the seasoned prawns on a large frying pan without any oil. Sear for 1 minute per side on high heat. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pan (no need to wash), add olive oil, garlic and tomato paste. Stir through on medium heat until aromatic and garlic lightly golden. Add tomatoes, chilli flakes and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to low and simmer with the lid on, for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is done.
- Once the pasta is ready, return the prawns back into the pan with parsley. Mix through over low heat then immediately add drained pasta and ½ cup of pasta cooking water.
- Toss pasta through the sauce and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh parsley, parmesan cheese and extra chilli flakes if desired.