Spaghetti with prawns, basil and pistachios

Neil Perry
Super fresh, super tasty: Spaghetti with prawns, basil and pistachio.
Super fresh, super tasty: Spaghetti with prawns, basil and pistachio. Photo: William Meppem

Traditionally, Italians never serve seafood pastas with parmesan cheese, but I love the subtle saltiness it adds to this dish. If you prefer, use cubes of seared fresh tuna instead of prawns - magic. We usually make this dish with long pasta but a short one such as penne works well, too.


1 clove garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 bunch basil leaves

1/4 bunch parsley leaves

1/4 bunch mint leaves

1/2 cup toasted unsalted pistachios

1 tbsp finely grated parmesan

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

freshly ground pepper

400g dried spaghetti

700g green king prawns, peeled with tails intact (or fresh tuna)


POUND THE GARLIC and 1/4 tsp salt into a paste, using a mortar and pestle. Add the basil, parsley and mint and continue to pound until the herbs break down and a thick paste is formed. Add half the pistachios and work them in well so the paste has a creamy texture.

ROUGHLY CHOP the remaining pistachios and stir through with the parmesan, 2 tbsp oil and lemon juice. Season with more salt if required and add a grind of pepper.

COOK THE SPAGHETTI in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well and place back in the pot with the lid on to keep warm.

HEAT A CAST-IRON PAN on a high heat with the remaining oil. Pan-fry the prawns for a minute each side, then season with remaining salt.

MIX THE PESTO and the prawns through the pasta and serve in four bowls.

Photography: William Meppem, Jennifer Soo.  Styling: Hannah Meppem. Food preparation: Nick Banbury.