Spaghetti with prawns, basil & pistachios

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


  • 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.

NOTES: Want something to drink?

For a perfect play against the delicate sweetness of the prawns and freshness of the pesto, try a pinot grigio. The 2010 Tiefenbrunner, from the northern Italian foothills of Alto-Adige, offers hints of texture with delicate pear, peach and white flowers and a crisp finish.