September 12, 2007, 1:10 am
Filed under: entree, pasta, quinoa, recipe, seafood, shrimp

Seared Prawns over Quinoa Conchiglie tossed with Salsa Cruda

or Shrimp with Fresh-Sauced Shells

Who says tomato sauce needs to bubble on the stove for hours before it reaches perfection. This fresh “no-cook” tomato sauce uses all the flavor of the ripe summer tomato to elevate your pasta to the next level. Salsa Cruda translates into “uncooked sauce” in Italian.

The secret ingredient in this dish is fresh, fragrant basil.

My African Blue Basil plant grows like a weed and is the only welcomed living thing still thriving in my spring garden.

Of course, Lillie was more than happy to help me harvest some for this recipe.

Garlic cloves pulled straight from the head are important too. Never use jarred garlic.

I used Veronica’s Quinoa pasta for the first time and loved its rich and nutty flavor. Quinoa has been cultivated for over 5,000 years (Go Incas, its your birthday, have a party, woo-hoo) and its the perfect grain for anyone trying to incorporate “good carbs” or “gluten-free” into their diet.


4 cups of fresh, ripe tomatoes, roughly seeded and diced into ¼ inch chunks

2 tablespoons of fresh minced basil

1 generous teaspoon of fresh garlic

¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp of toasted onion powder

1 tsp of garlic powder

Salt and Pepper

1 pound of pasta (short and stubby like penne or shells will grip the flavor better)

1 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano – shredded or microplaned

1 ½ pounds of large prawns

Combine tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Let it sit on the counter at room temperature for at least 45 minutes for the flavors to combine. Have some time? Give it 3-4 hours and it will taste divine.

Peel, rinse and pat dry the prawns.

Toss with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper (Obi John Cannoli would be proud) Heat wok or pan to medium high heat and add a light coating of canola or grape seed oil. Sear for just a few minutes until the edges start to turn golden brown. They cook fast and will turn tough if you overcook them.

Drain the hot pasta, transfer into a large mixing bowl and immediately fold in the sauce. As the temperature of the fresh sauce rises, the tomatoes wilt and the flavors are enhanced.

If it seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking water to thin the consistency. Spoon pasta into bowls and top with seared prawns and the parmesan. Manja!