Garlic Shrimp in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

Hi Folks

As probably only a very small handful of Cass’s readership knows, I currently live and work in Quebec City. That’s about 14600 kilometers away from home. I’ve been here for the better part of year, in fact, come January it’d have been one year away from home.

Living on my own means I’m kind of limited in the kinds of food I can cook. It’s hard to eat a pot of stew for a week (even if you freeze it into portions). Over the past months, you do learn to adapt recipes and scale them as needed.

One of my favourite quick and easy meals after a long day at work is a bowl of hot steaming pasta. You might be surprised, but you can make a great pasta dish for yourself in about the time it takes to cook the pasta. :)

Cass isn’t a fan of cream based sauces; they always end up being too heavy, and she gets sick of it pretty quickly. If you want a lighter flavoured dish, substitute cream for milk. I used full cream milk and it’s just about where I like it. I’ve not tried this with low fat milk – I’m not going to. Low fat = Low taste ;). The combination of the bacon oil, olive oil, garlic, tomato, basil & cream makes for a really simple but full flavoured sauce that needs very little salt added.


Garlic Prawns in Tomato Basil Cream with Penne – Recipe for 1

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes


  • 1 cup / serving  of penne or pasta of your choice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed and minced
  • 5 -6 medium sized prawns, peeled and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 strips of bacon, sliced to bite size bits (about 2cm strips)
  • 3-4 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 1.5 tsp of dry basil – if using fresh basil, 3-4 small leaves finely chopped
  • .5 tsp of dried chilli pepper
  • 150-200ml of cream (I substituted with milk to make the dish less heavy)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • cooking sherry or dry white wine.
  • salt & pepper to taste (I use a mix of sea salt and kosher salt, adjust to taste)
  • shredded parmesan


While preparing the items for the sauce, put a pot of water to boil (add a little salt)

In a bowl, add .5 tsp of olive oil,  .5 tsp of salt and minced garlic to the prawns, mix well and set aside.


In a cold pan, spread out the bacon slices and set the pan to medium heat. We’re going to reduce some of the bacon fat and release some of that flavourful oil. If after a few minutes the pan looks dry, add a little olive oil to the pan.

Once the bacon starts to brown, turn the heat up to medium high add the diced tomatos. Add about 1 tbsp of the wine or sherry to the pan. At around this point, the water should begin to boil – add the pasta. I used penne, which had a package recommended cooking time of 12-13minutes. I set a timer for 10 minutes as I like my pasta firm and we’ll still toss the pasta in the sauce for a minute or so.

After about 2-3 minutes, the tomatos should have started to become soft – add the prawns and  saute for a minute. When the prawns start turning red, and the sliced garlic and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. (Remember to stir the pasta in the pot so that it loosens up)

Add the milk and immediately turn the heat down to medium low.

Make sure the tomatos are fully broken down by stirring everything well. After 3 minutes, if the sauce is still too liquid, you can add a little flour to thicken it up.

Round about now, your pasta should be ready or close to ready. Turn the pan’s heat to low. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the pan and toss for a minute.

Dust a good coating of basil. Add salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste.

Serve with shredded parmesan and enjoy.


This is actually a variation of any quick basic tomato cream sauce recipe. Substituting ingredients is super simple:

If you don’t fancy tomato, leave it out and add more cheese instead for a creamy cheesy pasta sauce. If you don’t fancy the cream, leave it out – and you’ll get a sharper more acidic tomato based sauce. If you leave out the tomato and the cream – you’ll get a hybrid aglio olio!

Don’t like basil? Swop it with italian parsley, or whatever herb you like – experiment!

Scaling this recipe to accomodate more guests should be pretty straightforward. Doubling or tripling the ingredients shouldn’t be a problem, just watch the quantities of salt and pepper – taste test constantly!

Here’s a tip to get nice bouncy prawns Tip:

All in all, it’s really hard to get pasta wrong. Unless you severely overcook it.

Thanks for reading and till the next time.


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