Prawn linguine

For sometime I’ve wanted to use up a box of frozen raw prawns with heads and shells. I was keen to try something that wouldn’t waste the heads and shells although I know many people don’t fancy the mess of cleaning them while eating; so this dish uses the shells and heads in the sauce for added flavour.

Oh… quick note on prawn size… you may See a number on the packet, such as 41/50 or 13-14. This is the number prawns per kilogram and gives you an idea of the size of the prawn.

For this dish I used Head on Shell On prawns (HOSO). Don’t get the Peeled Deveined Tail On (PDTO) as you won’t get the shells and heads that you need for the sauce.


1kg box of head on shell on prawns.

Olive oil

1 Tbls of dry vermouth (such as an Noily Prat). Optional

small knob of butter and two tbsp of olive oil

1 medium peeled and diced red onion

2 tsb spoon of crushed garlic

2 dried red chilli (roughly broken)

1 tsb dried oregano (or some fresh if u have it)

1 decent sized glass of white wine. I used a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (mainly because I wanted a glass with the final dish)

1 tin of tomatoes

250g of dried linguini (I used De Cecco taglierini all’uovo)

Few sprigs of torn basil


Defrost the prawns, wash and then shell and devein all but 4 of them. Gordon Ramsay has a good video explaining how to do this here.

Retain the heads and shells. Wash the cleaned prawns, cover and keep them in the fridge. You should throw away the “vein” that you pull out of the prawn, keep the rest.

Add the vermouth and a little oil and salt to the heads and shells in a oven dish and place in a 200c oven for about 20mins. Give them a little stir every 5min or so. They should be just turning golden and crispy when you take them out.

While the shells are in the oven, heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the garlic and red onion for about 5mins. Next add the white wine and turn up the heat until the liquid has reduced down to a couple of tablespoons.

When the shells are done, tip them into a food processor and blend it as smooth as you can get it. Decant the mixture into big seive and strain it, you may need to use the base of a ladle to squish it through and get the juice out.

Add the shell extract to the pan with the reduced wine and add the tin of tomatoes. Give it all a good mix and add the dried chilli and the oregano. Let it reduce down a little more, add some water if it looks too thick. Season with salt and black pepper.

While the sauce is cooking, boil your linguini – the one I used only takes about 3-4mins. When it’s ready, reserve a little of the pasta water – maybe about 1cup and drain the rest of the pasta, mix in a little olive oil to stop it sticking together.

When you’re ready to serve, heat a frying pan to searing hot and add some butter and oil, fry the prawns that you put in the fridge earlier. Start with the 4 with the shells still on and then when they colour, add the rest. The whole process should take only about 5mins. Squeeze half a lemon over the frying prawns (don’t let the pips fall in!!) and season with a little salt.

To serve…. u have two options.

1. Have a separate heated pan, add a portion of sauce, pasta and cooked prawns stir it all together and ladle in a little of the reserved pasta water so it isn’t too gloopy and sticky. Turn it onto a warm plate and top with one of the shell on prawns sprinkle the torn basil and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Repeat for the other 3 plates and serve like a boss!

2. Tip all the cooked shelled prawns into the sauce and add the pasta and some of the reserved water as before. Divide into 4 plates and top each with a shell on cooked prawn. And sprinkle the basil and oil. Serve.

I like to serve it with a decent crusty bread, a green salad and the wine I used in the sauce.

2 thoughts on “Prawn linguine

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