When I’m cooking at home on weekends, I can easily (and happily) spend the whole afternoon tinkering in the kitchen to make dinner. But mid-week it can be a bit of a balancing act to create maximum flavour in the shortest amount of time.
This is a dish I’ve been cooking for years. After paring down the process each time, I’ve worked out the quickest, most efficient way to make the sauce. Which, by the way, is concentrated and only a coating – the pasta shouldn’t be swimming in it.
Texture plays a big part in how I cook, and this dish is no exception. Trottole pasta has a great bite and an almost chewy quality, perfectly complemented by the crunchy texture of the prawns.
Trottole pasta with prawns, tomato and tarragon, by Andrew McConnell, Trader House Restaurants
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
6 whole raw tiger prawns, 75–80g each
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 brown onion finely diced
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
80ml (1/3 cup) white wine
4 large, super-ripe tomatoes
400g trottole or another short-cut pasta, such as fusilli
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp grated parmesan
¼ bunch tarragon, leaves picked and chopped, plus extra to serve
Peel and devein the prawns, setting aside four prawn heads for the sauce. Chop the prawn meat and set aside in the fridge.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat and gently cook the onion and prawn heads for 5 minutes (don’t allow the onion to colour). Add the garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the white wine and simmer until it has evaporated.
Meanwhile, grate the tomatoes on the coarse side of a box grater. As you push the flesh and seeds through the grater, the skin will remain in one large piece, which you can then discard. Add the tomato pulp to the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally and gently pressing on the prawn heads to extract all the juices. Continue to cook for 30–35 minutes, gradually adding up to 125ml (½ cup) water so the sauce remains quite loose.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 250ml (1 cup) of the pasta cooking liquid.
Quickly remove and discard the prawn heads in the tomato sauce and add the pasta to the pan, along with the reserved prawn meat and chilli flakes (if using). Stir the prawn through the pasta for about 1 minute or until just cooked through. Remove from the heat and add a little of the reserved pasta cooking liquid if the pasta sauce seems a little dry.
Stir the butter, parmesan and tarragon leaves through the pasta, then season to taste with salt. Divide among shallow bowls and serve, garnished with a little more tarragon, if desired.
This is an extract from the Broadsheet cookbook Home Made, which features 80 diverse recipes for home cooking, sourced from Melbourne's best cooks, chefs and restaurants. Published by Plum, the book is available for $49.95 at shop.broadsheet.com.au