There are days we all need a little cream in our lives. If we can couple it with wine and pasta and seafood, all the better.
I do not like alfredo. Yep, there I said it. It's often heavy and gloppy and even grainy with cheese. It covers up the flavors of anything else in the dish, and relies on merely richness as the attraction. I want to taste the herbs, the shallots, the wine. I even like to taste the pasta! I'm also of the mind-set that seafood and cheese don't belong in the same dish. Unless, as my friend Maggi reminded me, it is shrimp-oregano-garlic-olive oil-feta cheese light goodness.
It's mid-January here in the North. That means heaps of snow, cold temperatures, and a hankering for food filled with comfort. With a family the size of mine, it often takes the form of stew or soup, beef roast or meatloaf. Pasta always answers the call, though.
My Target store had a one pound bag of frozen "salad shrimp" on sale for $4.99. "Wild caught" said the bag. Works for me! They're pretty small, which makes them perfect for a cooked dish. I knew cream should enter the recipe, and I always have white wine in the fridge. Some garlic, shallots, butter, herbs and other seasonings would easily make a delectable and very simple meal.
This is one of those dishes that seems extravagant and luxurious, but isn't. Another thing it is not is complicated or time-consuming. Fresh snow made Mister's commute longer than usual, so he kept me updated on his progress. Other than boiling the pasta, the dish took 15 minutes from start to finish.
You could easily substitute salmon, or scallops, or even chicken if you felt so inclined. The chicken would leave a void in terms of sea-tasty essence, though. With a nice green salad and some herby bread on the side, you'll have a very satisfying meal. If you happen to have some frozen peas hanging around, toss a cup or so into the sauce just before it's finished - lovely color!
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound of frozen, pre-cooked "salad" shrimp, thawed
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, or dry white vermouth)
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound linguini (or other pasta) cooked and drained, 1/2 cup pasta water reserved
In a very large skillet, melt butter over medium low heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium, and add shrimp. Cook for a few minutes, adding in the basil, thyme, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook briefly, a minute or two. Stir in the cream and simmer for another 2 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the saute pan with the sauce and a bit of the pasta water to coat the pasta. Using tongs, turn the pasta in the sauce until well coated. Turn into a large pasta bowl and make sure there are plenty of the shrimp on top to look pretty.
This recipe served the 8 of us, with bread and salad as part of the meal.