Thursday, December 24, 2009

Quickie Lemon Shrimp Pasta

Let me be frank. I love shrimp. Love love love shrimp. Undoubtedly one of my absolute favorite seafoods. The only thing I requested to be served our little backyard wedding, which my husband's family so graciously obliged (cooked to perfection and served with lots and LOTS of butter - I knew I married into the right family), was shrimp. Sweet, succulent and crunchy when perfectly cooked. To me, there's not many other foods that rival the perfection that is the shrimp, and relatively affordable as far as seafood goes. Lucky for me my favorite Asian supermarket in Seattle's International District sells some pretty large shrimp at a decent price. That price may have something to do with the fact that while headless, they aren't peeled. Or deveined. This task isn't for the squeamish but for those that don't know (and maybe you don't want to know), you're not really removing a 'vein'. It's the intestine that runs along the back of the shrimp that can be filled with dirt and grit and digested parts of whatever shrimps eat. It's shrimp poo so it has to be removed. Unless you're into eating shrimp poo in which case, you're reading the wrong blog.

This was a super quick and easy meal that gets put together in less than 15 minutes (after the shrimp are peeled and deveined of course) that's fancy enough for entertaining. Try it and let me know how yours turns out and any variations you use, I'd love to hear from you!

Quickie Lemon Shrimp Pasta

Serves 4 generously

1.5 lbs large shrimp (I think mine were 15-20 which is a meaning about 15-20 shrimp per lb)
6 cups tender leafy veggies (spinach or arugula will work but I had pea sprouts)
1 14 oz. box short cut pasta (penne, rotini, etc.)
4 tbsp. grated cheese (grana padano or parigiano reggiano)
1 juice of a lemon, more for garnish
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 c. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven at 400°F. At the same time, put a pot of water to boil pasta. The trick to this dish is to make sure your water is boiling at the same time the oven is up to temperature. You're baking the shrimp the same time the pasta is cooking and both should take about the same time to cook.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and place on an aluminum baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and one teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper - toss and spread out in one flat layer. Depending on exactly how large your shrimp these should take 8-10 minutes.

Throw a handful of salt in the boiling water. Wait for it to dissolve and dump the pasta, give it a stir. In the mean time, wash your veggies. I happen to have these weird pea sprouts I picked up at the same Asian market but they're a little obscure.
Spinach, arugula or even watercress will work perfectly. Any tender leafy veg that will wilt slightly with a little hot water. Put about 1.5 cups of greens per plate - raw. Chop up your parsley and have your cheese close and ready to sprinkle. When the shrimp is ready they will be completely opaque and when pressed with your finger, don't have any give.
As your pasta finishes cooking, check a piece for doneness. And use a slotted spoon or spider to drain the pasta directly onto the greens.

It's fine if the water isn't drained, you actually want some pasta water to go onto the greens.

Sprinkle the cheese onto the steamy pasta and it will make this nice, cheesy crust on ridged pasta like penne, mmmmmmmmmmm. Put about 5 (or 50) shrimp on top of the cheesy pasta.

Squeeze some lemon on top and dress with parsley, enjoy!

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