4 portions. Maximum cost: £14.45, 

Skill level: Easy if using peeled prawns, 

Total cooking time: 15 minutes if using peeled prawns, 45 minutes if not, 

  • Prep time: < 5 minutes if using prepared prawns, 30 minutes if you need to peel, 
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes, 

Equipment used: Food processor, 1 large saucepan, 1 frying pan, 1 colander, 

Original recipe: (Jamie Oliver’s) Spaghetti with prawns & rocket


Or to sound all authentic, “Spaghetti con gamberetti e rucola”.

If you choose to spend half an hour pulling prawn heads off, this dish can be ready in 45 mins. If you cheat, this will take only 15 mins. Using blitzed sun dried tomatoes instead of a more typical fresh tomato or canned tomato based sauce is not only quicker, but makes for an interesting change to what otherwise could be a pretty basic pasta dish. 

I’ve made a couple of amends to the original recipe; I add a lot more sundried tomato paste and the prawns to the pan at a later stage to  prevent them from overcooking – potentially I reduced the sauce down for a little too long but I found it to be a bit watery / winey otherwise. 

I’ve heard that hand rolled pasta holds onto the sauce better than machine rolled pasta (the reason being that machine rolled pasta is too “smooth” and so the sauce simply slips off, whereas hand rolled pasta has more lumps and bumps and so a greater surface area.) I usually wait until there is an offer on one of the more expensive brands and stockpile but to be honest I haven’t really noticed any difference between the brands.


To prep:

(Original recipe in bold font)

  1. If you’re using sun-dried tomatoes instead of tomato paste then blitz 10 + tomatoes plus a dash of oil in a food processor.
  2. Finely chop garlic and dried red chilli (I use kitchen scissors for the chilli)
  3. Zest and juice the lemon
  4. De-shell the prawns (if needed)


To cook:

Cook your spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions. The original recipe says to use 455g for 4 people (most spaghetti packets are 500g) but I’ve found this to be far too much in relation to the prawn and sauce ratios. I now use 80g of pasta per person and still increase the amount of sauce

If you’re so lazy you can’t be bothered to weigh your spaghetti, then judge by eye – you want roughly the equivalent of a £1 coin worth per person. 

Meanwhile, heat 3 good lugs of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and toss in 2 chopped cloves of garlic and 1 or 2 crumbled / chopped dried red chilli.

As the garlic begins to colour, add 400g peeled prawns and sauté them for a minute – I opt not to include the prawns at this stage, as would rather reduce the sauce down first

Add a wineglass full of white wine and 2 tablespoons of tomato purée (or more!) and simmer for a couple of minutes. I leave this to reduce by a fair bit before then adding the prawns.

When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water. The easiest way to do this is to dip a teacup into the pan before draining the pasta.

Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, squeeze in the lemon juice from 1 lemon, add half the chopped rocket (1 big handful), adding a little of the reserved cooking water if you want to loosen the sauce a bit, and correct the seasoning.

Divide between 4 plates and sprinkle with the grated lemon zest and the rest of the rocket leaves (another big handful)



  • 1 small wineglass of white wine (£1.75)
  • 320g of of dried spaghetti (90p for a 500g packet. The original recipe says to use 455g)
  • 2 garlic cloves (50p for a bulb)
  • 1 or 2 dried red chillies
  • 400g peeled prawns (equates to 24 prawns), £8 from the supermarket, £5 from the fish mongers –  you will have to spend time de-shelling them however you pay a fraction of the price.  
  • sun-dried tomatoes (£2 for the jar, I used half here,). Alternatively use pre-made sun-dried tomato paste.
  • 1 lemon (30p)
  • 2 big handfuls of rocket (£1 for the bag)