I’m slightly obsessed with paprika. There I said it. I’m not ashamed though because there is actually so much to love about this Moorish spice. I’m not talking about a jar of Tesco’s own version either; I am a little snobbish when it comes to paprika. Since discovering the world of Moorish cooking in amongst the pages of my first Moro cookbook, I fell head over heels in love with their food that spans regions of Spain to the coast of Africa. Their recommended version of paprika was La Chinata, a smoked Spanish paprika which comes as sweet (dulce) or hot (picante).
I scoured the shops for it, unsuccessfully at first; such a specialised ingredient was not easy to come by in the early noughties. When I found it and then cooked with I felt like I’d discovered a secret ingredient, something that would change the flavour of my cookery world from there on in. I also loved, loved the little tin in which this wonder was and still is packaged, there is style in its red facade and circular tin lid. As you prise it off with the end of a teaspoon, the earthy, smoky, aroma exudes and you are transported to world of lounging cushions, low tables and Moroccan lanterns, well I am, you might have your own Moorish fantasies.
There are lots of wonderful dishes in which you can use this spice, if you delve into the world of Spanish cookery then it is a staple. We use it in Stig’s paella recipe or mashed with butter and rubbed over a chicken maybe add to a lamb casserole for a Moroccan hint. Thankfully my children have taken to paprika too so I am able to spice up our family meals with a dash here and there.
So I got to thinking, I love paprika and I love pasta and I love an easy family meal, so I mixed it all up and came up with this recipe, Spaghetti with Paprika Prawns. I use wholemeal spaghetti, I’m not a big fan of wholemeal pasta shapes, always seem a bit chewy, but I think the nuttiness you get from the spaghetti adds to the texture and flavour of certain dishes , this being one of them. Also I add a teaspoon of sugar because you are not cooking the tomato sauce over a long period which would usually brings sweetness to the sauce, in this quick meal I help it along a little. Look in your local deli for good quality paprika or in the section for posh and exotic ingredients in your local supermarket, there are lots of different ones available now, I use the sweet version here. Enjoy..
Spaghetti with Paprika Prawns
400g wholemeal spaghetti
1 finely chopped clove of garlic/ 1 tsp of lazy garlic
500g of passata
Large heap teaspoon of good quality paprika, add more to taste if you wish.
1 tsp sugar
Optional chilli powder to taste
300g of raw peeled prawns
Salt and pepper to season.
Freshly grated parmesan for serving.
- Place spaghetti into pan of boiling water and allow to cook as instructed on the packet.
- Heat oil in large frying pan on hob and gently fry garlic for 2 minutes.
- Add the passata and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Stir in the paprika and the sugar and optional chilli.
- Allow to cook and simmer for 5 minutes and taste, add more paprika or chilli powder if required.
- Cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add prawns and cook through for 3 minutes or until opaque. Season as required.
- Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce, mix together.
- Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan.