Monday, 5 October 2009

Prawn Spaghetti

When I was a fresher at university, the Sainsbury's Low Price range, as it was then known, featured significantly on my shopping list, as unlike many of the freshers coming from my country of origin to study here I was not terribly well-funded. One of the few items that I did not buy a Basics version of however was the pasta sauce. It was the colour of the sauce that made me think twice. Unlike the deep red sauce found in the regular pasta sauce jars, the Low Price sauce was a sinister orangey red. My better sense told me to avoid it, and so I have, for the past five years or so. This week however, my curiosity got the better of me, and I thought I would post something about it, purchasing the sauce in advance.

Sadly, the orange-reddish hue is still there. I was supposed to have done this blog post on Saturday, so that this year's batch of freshers would benefit, but was delayed - by the time Sunday came round, I found I was too late; the local Sainsbury's was teeming with eager, bleary-eyed university students.

The sauce itself tasted very bland, with slightly sour hint of tomato. This can be attributed to the near lack of tomatoes in the ingredients. Some of the listed flavourings do come through, albeit barely noticeably. As a consolation, Sainsbury's had the decency to bottle this in transparent glass jars, so that buyers would be able to tell what they are getting themselves into.

Being a carnivore however, I was not intent on cooking Spaghetti Pomodoro tonight. To this end, I got myself a bag of frozen prawns, having already done the likes of Bolognese and Carbonara and variations thereof to death.
At the time of writing, you'll be able to find these in the frozen section in Sainsbury's; if you live anywhere near me, it's the final aisle at the very inside of Sainsbury's, next to the wine. Unlike the pasta sauce, I've used these before when cooking Laksa for my flatmates several years ago.

This recipe is straightforward, so expect more photos than text. Chop finely a small onion and some garlic, in the meantime heating some oil in a pan. Olive oil is preferred, to try to impart some flavour into the sauce.

Fry the onion until it caramelises slightly, then add the garlic.

Add the prawns next. Care should be taken not to let them shrink too much, if need be, turn down or take it off the heat.

Employ a trick apparently used by the Italians, if the packaging of most of Sainsbury's pasta is to be believed. What they supposedly do is that they'll cook the pasta halfway, and then add it to the sauce, warming gently. Doing this will allow the half-cooked pasta to continue cooking, absorbing the moisture and the goodness from the sauce.

Except that this time I decided to add the pasta before adding the sauce. Season lightly with pepper and herb mix.
Add the pasta sauce, turn off the heat, and stir until the sauce is well mixed and the pasta is evenly coated.
Leave to continue cooking, and you're done.

The pasta turned out to be palatable. My more discerning flatmates sampled some of it and generally agreed with me. Having now found out for myself how good the Basics pasta sauce is however, I think it would be safe to say that my satisfied curiosity would be my sole significant gain from tonight's exercise.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Cooked & Peeled Prawns£1.76 (£0.59 / 100g)300g+£1.23 for 350g (+£0.27 / 100g)Larger (and sweeter?) prawns
Tomato Pasta Sauce£0.363 (440ml)+£0.62 for 500mlRicher tomato taste, more sauce variety. Recommended.

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