How to make the ultimate Bloody Mary prawn cocktail

Country Life's kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson shares a sensational recipe which makes the most of the cherry tomatoes now in season.

‘Cherry tomatoes are genetically related to wild currant tomatoes, which explains their delightful sweetness,’ says Melanie Johnson.

They can be deployed in the simplest of manners, particularly with pasta. Add cherry tomatoes, a halved garlic bulb and thinly sliced chorizo to a baking tray, then drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and bake for an hour in a low oven. Once cooked, squeeze the garlic from the bulb, add cooked spaghetti to the tray and toss everything together for a simple dinner.

For a classic summer starter, though, using the tomatoes in this prawn cocktail is perfect.


Serves 4

For the dressing

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  • 4tbspn olive oil
  • 2tbspn sherry vinegar
  • 100ml passata
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 50ml vodka
  • A splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tspn horseradish
  • A pinch of celery salt
  • 4tbspn mayonnaise

For the salad

  • 2 little gem cos lettuces
  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 sticks celery
  • ¼ cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 spring onions
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 1tbspn butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 small handful freshly chopped parsley
  • ½tspn chilli flakes
  • 12 extra large cooked king prawns, 8 peeled and veined, 4 in their shells


First, prepare the dressing by simply whisking all the ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the salad, pull away the leaves from the cos lettuces, keeping the large ones intact. Chop the smaller ones and put in a bowl. Halve the cherry tomatoes, finely slice the celery, dice the cucumber and avocado, thinly slice the spring onions and add them all to the same bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, heat the splash of olive oil and butter in a frying pan. When the butter has melted, add the grated garlic, chopped parsley and chilli flakes and stir. All 12 prawns go in next and should be tossed for only a couple of minutes to heat and add flavour—be careful not to overcook them. Remove the pan from the heat.

Assemble the cocktails by arranging the cos lettuce leaves to line four individual serving dishes. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.

Spoon some of the salad onto the arranged lettuce leaves and then, to each dish, add a couple of peeled prawns, together with pan juices.

Spoon on another layer of salad and top each cocktail with an unshelled prawn. Scatter over a few edible flowers and serve with thinly sliced and toasted sourdough.