Have you ever considered using Harissa on pasta? Admittedly, it hadn’t really come across my mind before. With its North African origin, Harissa is more typically used in soups and stews, and sometimes roasted vegetables. The first time I tried using Harissa in my cooking was with chicken, which turned out okay. But I quickly realised its robust flavours could suit well with seafood. With seafood, I love a good plate of seafood pasta, so it got me thinking about how harissa could potentially work in a pasta concept. From there, the idea was born with this Harissa Prawn Pasta recipe which since turned into a regular on my dinner table.
This recipe is definitely one for the books, given how easy and quick it is to put everything together. You can easily whip this up in under 20 minutes, once again proving there’s no need to be sacrificing flavours even when short of time.
By incorporating Harissa into your pasta, you can expect an extra unique kick of spice to the palate. Different brands of Harissa would taste a little differently and feature a different spice level. If you aren’t already familiar with harissa, do play around a little until you find your best pick.
What is Harissa?
Harissa is a hot chilli pepper paste with North African origins, typically appearing in Tunisian and Libyan cuisines. Imagine roasted peppers, but with plenty of spices added and a more robust flavour – that’s the best I can describe it.
A common variation is Rose Harissa, which I consider as a milder version of Harissa paste. The addition of rose petals and rose water in Rose Harissa counterbalances the heat from the chillies and smokiness of the peppers.
As mentioned, different brands of Harissa paste offers different spice levels and taste. So do play around until you find one that fits your personal flavour preferences the most. I personally enjoy the Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa, which gives an extra smokey touch of flavour to the dish and goes super well with the pasta. Alternatively, the rose harissa could offer a more floral touch to it.
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How to make Harissa Prawn Pasta
Starting with ingredients, you’ll need:
- Prawns (I used frozen king prawns. Defrost before cooking)
- Pasta (I recommend using Linguine)
- Harissa Paste
- Red Bird’s Eye Chillies
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Dried Oregano
- Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Coriander Leaves
Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil and season it generously with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Start with the aromatics by sauteeing both garlic and red chillies for about 2 minutes till fragrant. Next, add in the tomatoes, and cook until they begin to blister. Season with salt, black pepper, and a pinch of oregano.
Then, stir in the Harissa paste, saute for a minute and add in the prawns. Cook for about 5 minutes (depending on size) until cooked through. Add about 1-2 tbsp of pasta water to loose up the sauce before adding in the cooked pasta. Toss to combine and then mix in fresh coriander leaves. Serve immediately.
Harissa Prawn Pasta Recipe
- 220 g Pasta (Linguine/Spaghetti)
- 150 g Prawns
- 3 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 2-3 Red Bird's Eye Chillies finely chopped
- 200 g Cherry Tomatoes halved
- 2 heaped tbsp Harissa Paste
- 10 g Fresh Coriander Leaves chopped
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ tsp Oregano
- ½ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, season generously with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, saute garlic and red chillies for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add in the cherry tomatoes, cook until they begin to blister, roughly 5 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, and oregano.
- Stir in Harissa paste, saute for a minute. Then add in prawns. Cook for about 5 minutes (depending on size) until cooked through.
- Add 1-2 tbsp of pasta water to loosen up the sauce and add in cooked pasta. Toss to combine.
- Mix in fresh coriander leaves and serve immediately.
- Different brands of would offer different blends of flavour, so do play around until you find your best pick of harissa paste. I use Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa.
- If using frozen prawns, defrost before use.
- Adjust the amount of chillies accordingly to the spice level of your harissa paste and your taste preferences.
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