This super tasty spicy prawn harissa pasta has quickly become a Friday night favourite in my house. With hot smoky harissa, refreshing citrus and cool tangy feta this pasta dish offers an array of bold, complex and slightly decadent flavours that easily make this dish worthy of a date night or dinner party. It's sure to knock your socks off, but it's also surprisingly uncomplicated with just 30 minutes of cooking and prep time.
Or for another prawn recipe, brimming with delicious bold flavours check out my Chorizo Risotto with Prawns.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
✅ 3 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Full of flavour - with hot smoky harissa, refreshing citrus and cool tangy feta this pasta dish packs a punch.
- Quick - on the table in under 30 minutes
- Simple ingredients - you should be able to find all of them at your local store.
🛒 Ingredients and variations:
The ingredients list probably isn't the shortest you've seen, but it's certainly not the longest and there's nothing that you won't be able to find in your regular store. You'll get the best results using all the ingredients, however, if you don't have it all don't let it stop you. The wine and balsamic are optional and there are also a few swaps you can do.
- Harissa paste: if you are lucky enough to find yourself with a choice of harissa pastes pick whichever one you fancy. Both rose and non-rose varieties will work well. Remember some harissa pastes are hotter than others. It's best to start with less and add more if you are sensitive to spice. If you can't find Harissa paste in your local store you can make your own or switch it for another type of hot sauce like sriracha or sambal oelek.
- Pasta: most varieties of long pasta including spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle and bucatini will work well in this recipe.
- Prawn/shrimp: raw and larger varieties such as king prawns tend to be more succulent, but you can also use cooked prawns, add chicken or toasted pine nuts instead to make the dish vegetarian.
- Feta: ricotta, burrata or a dollop of yoghurt on the side will also bring a cool tanginess.
🧑🍳 Spicy Prawn/Shrimp Pasta in 4 easy steps
Gently fry the onions until translucent. Then add the garlic and harissa paste and fry for a minute more. Pour on the wine (optional) and simmer for a few minutes until the wine cooks off.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of generously salted water.
Top tip: Reserved pasta water adds silky richness and additional flavor to any pasta dish. Set a small cup of pasta water aside before you drain the cooked pasta and add it to the sauce.
3. Prawns, lemon, feta
Add the prawns and simmer for a couple of minutes until they are opaque then add the lemon juice and zest. Remove the pan from the heat and add the crumbled feta.
Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce and serve immediately topped with fresh parsley.
👍 Top tips for perfect spicy prawn harissa pasta
- Harissa paste varies when it comes to heat and flavour intensity. You may want to add a little more (or less) to suit your taste.
- Salt the pasta water generously - don't hold back when salting the pasta water. It should be as salty as the ocean. If this makes you feel concerned about your sodium intake remember that most of the salt will be poured away when you drain the cooked pasta.
- Add the lemon juice and zest at the end - to bring bright, fresh and citrusy flavour that cuts through the smoky heat of the harissa sauce. Adding lemon juice and zest too early will mellow its flavour as the sauce simmers.
- Take the pan off the heat before adding the feta - feta tastes best when it's still cool, but starting to melt a little and is still separate from the sauce.
I'd say medium, but this will depend on the type of harissa you use and your sensitivity to spice. Increase the amount of harissa paste to add more heat or add chilli flakes or a fresh red chilli.
Harissa is a chilli paste so is often spicy, although the level of heat will vary from paste to paste depending on the type of chillies used. There's often a smoky taste as well as a tanginess from citrus juices and vinegar. If you are using rose harissa you'll also be able to taste floral undertones.
Harissa is typically made with dry red chillies, garlic, citrus, olive oil and spices such as cumin, coriander and caraway seeds. Rose harissa also contains rose petals in addition to the normal harissa ingredients.
The heat levels of harissa pastes can vary a lot depending on the type of chillies used. If in doubt add a little and taste to assess the level of heat adding more to suit your desired level of spiciness.
Spicy prawn (shrimp) harissa pasta tastes best served immediately. Ensure any leftovers are refrigerated as soon as the dish is cool, eaten within 24 hours and thoroughly reheated on the stove or in the microwave.
😋 Check out my other easy pasta recipes
Pasta is a top choice because it doesn't take too much time or effort to make it utterly delicious and even a little decadent. If you liked this spicy prawn harissa pasta, you should check out my other pasta recipes. They all use simple ingredients and most can be made in 30 minutes or less.
Did you try this recipe? It would be really great if you could leave a comment and a star rating ⭐️. I would love to receive your feedback and know that other readers find it helpful too.
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Harissa Pasta with Prawns
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 tbsp harissa paste
- ½ cup (120 ml) white wine
- 14 oz (200g) can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar optional
- ¾ cup (200 ml) chicken or veg stock
- 14 oz (400 g) dried spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle
- 150 g (300 g) shrimp/prawns peeled and deveined
- ½ lemon juice + zest
- 1 ⅓ cup (200 g) crumbled feta
- A handful of chopped parsley
- Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and fry the onion until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant.
- Add the harissa paste and pour in the wine if using. Let it simmer for a few minutes until the alcohol cooks off.
- Pour in the chopped tomato, add the balsamic vinegar, pour on the stock and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of generously salted boiling water.
- Add the shrimp/prawns to the sauce and cook for a few minutes until opaque.
- Drain the pasta when it is al dente, ensuring you reserve a few tablespoons of the starchy pasta water first.
- Add the lemon zest and juice to the sauce and add a little pasta water to the sauce if needed.
- Take the sauce off the heat, add the crumbled feta and toss with the cooked pasta.
- Top with fresh parsley and serve immediately.