Pasta in Minced Prawn and Chilli Tomato Sauce
However wonderful the restaurants in St Petersburg are, grocery shopping for the foreign home cook is like playing the piano with my left foot, blind-folded, with both of my hands tied to my right foot. Mysterious Russian labels everywhere, not very assisting shop assistants, not a sign in English. It is all very confusing. The obvious fruit, veg, meat and spices are easy to spot, but anything out of my comfort zone makes me a tired nervous wreck (and things aren’t cheap here either).
Cooked, peeled and packaged prawns frustrate me. Why are supermarkets selling these? And why are people buying these?! I haven’t come across a supermarket in the busiest parts of St Petersburg that stocks raw prawns. I’m going to have to attack the markets with the superb Russian language skills that I lack but till then I’m going to make it my task to make yukhy cooked and peeled prawns taste okay and not like truck tyres. So how do I disguise the truck-tyre like taste of pre-cooked prawns? Mush ’em up and stick them in a pasta sauce.
Pasta with Chilli Tomato and Minced Prawns
3 cups elbow macaroni
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large tomatoes, chopped finely
200g tomato paste (passata)
1 pepper (yellow or red), diced into 1 inch pieces
200g prawns (if the pre-cooked variety, then mince them into choppy bits in a food processor or roughly chop them up. If they are lovely fresh raw ones, they may even be nice sauteed whole)
1 red chilli
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 veggie stock cube
3 tsp sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan cheese, to serve
1. Tomato base: Heat 3 tbsp oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic until softened. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, passata, chopped chilli and chilli flakes, balsamic vinegar, sugar and crumbled stock cube. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly for 45 minutes-1 hour.
2. Al Dente Pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta in and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes till al dente. Drain and keep to the side.
3. Peppers + Prawns: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and cook the peppers over high heat for 5 minutes, then add the minced prawns and cook for another 2 minutes. Mix into the tomato base and simmer for 5 mins. Stir in the sour cream.
4. Stir sauce into pasta and serve with lots of parmesan. If you fancy some basil then that works beautifully too (tomato hearts basil).