From time to time the supermarket has a 2 for 1 offer on bags of large prawns so I stock up. I buy the grey uncooked ones which change colour as they cook, just like magic, before your eyes. I discovered a bag of these large prawns sitting in the freezer waiting for a good recipe shortly after we returned from France and I remembered this recipe and thought it would help keep our recent holiday memories alive: a simple summery dish in a piquant sauce and ideal for a light quick meal. It would also be good as a starter. My family’s only complaint was that they would have liked more: perhaps a mixture of large and small prawns would be possible. Certainly this recipe could just as easily be made with the small relatively inexpensive prawns. This is also another recipe where I can use the mild flavoured Piment d’Espelette I bought in the Basque region of France.
The recipe comes from the Tesco book Mediterranean Food by Christine France, which is fast becoming one of my favourite titles. The original recipe used Tiger Prawns, which I am sure would be wonderful, but not what I was intending to use. In place of a 400g bag of shell on Tiger Prawns I used a 200g bag of uncooked & peeled frozen large prawns. I added an optional 1tsp tomato purée for extra richness as I did not have plum tomatoes, having substituted ordinary round English ones which are often less sweet, plus a pinch of sugar to bring out the flavour of the fruit. The quantity was really only enough for a light main meal for three people and if feeding more people more large prawns or some small ones should be added. Extra tomatoes would also give a larger quantity.
Prawns with Provençal Style Tomato Salsa
(Serves 2-3 – 4 for a starter)
400g/14ozs raw tiger prawns in shells
200g/7ozs shelled tiger prawns, large or small – raw if available
2tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed
¼tsp dried crushed chillies (Piment d’Espelette if available)
3 or 4 plum tomatoes finely chopped (round English tomatoes if plum unavailable)
1tsp tomato purée
4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained & finely chopped
2tsp red wine vinegar
6 pitted black olives, quartered
2tbsp chopped fresh basil
Salt & black pepper
1. If using shell on prawns remove the shells, slit open the back of each one and scrape out any black vein. Rinse well and pat dry with kitchen towel.
2. If using frozen prawns they should have been prepared in advance but must be defrosted before cooking.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the garlic and chillies together for one minute to release their flavour.
4. If using raw prawns, fresh or defrosted, add them now stir fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes or until the prawns have turned pink and cooked through. Pre-cooked prawns can be cooked for a shorter time, especially the tiny ones, as they only need to be heated through thoroughly (if cooked for too long they become rubbery).
5. Stir in the fresh and dried tomatoes (plus tomato purée if using) and simmer together with the prawns for one minute.
6. Stir in the wine vinegar, olives and most of the basil and remove from the heat. Season and scatter with a little more shredded basil before serving with salad and crusty bread or rice.