Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shrimp Pasta

One of my favorite blogs is Pioneer Woman - she's fun, funny, and her blog is full of pictures and step-by-step recipes captured on film. When I first made this pasta, I was amazed by how a few imgredients could create such amazing flavors. Simple and straight-forward, this pasta requires minimum prep work, especially if you buy pre-peeled shrimp. Or buy shell on, so you can take out some rage issues while peeling them, and then save the shells to make shrimp stock.

A couple weeks ago at the Irvine Farmers Market (Saturdays 8am-12p) I came across some English peas. Super cute! I envisioned myself sitting on a porch in gingham and Ginger-esque pigtails, shucking peas. In reality, they were shucked over my kitchen sink while I was still in my work clothes, but the inital idea was very romantic. They look a lot like sugar snap peas so make sure you verify with the seller that they're English peas. You simply pop the pods open, run your finger along the inside and the peas fall out. Try to get the smaller ones, as they are sweeter; the larger peas may be kind of starchy. These ones below were starchy (see how huge they are) but I got some a couple weeks before that and they were small, sweet and crisp.

The peas really adds a brightness to the dish. You can totally make this yourself tonight! Just go to the market and grab a few ingredients. Dinner will be on the table in no time.

Shrimp Pasta
adaped from Pioneer Woman

3/4 lb rotini pasta (or your favorite shape)
1/2 cup fresh English peas, or frozen peas
2 Tbsp olive oil, separated
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb shrimp
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine or broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup basil, chiffonade

In a large pot, bring water to a rapid boil and add enough salt to make the water taste like the sea. Add pasta and cook to just al dente. You want it barely done, with still a bit of a bite, so it can continue to cook in the tomato cream sauce. In the last minute of cooking, throw the peas in and let them blanch before draining.

In another large pan, melt oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp on one side, and then the other, until pink but barely done. They will continue cooking in the sauce later, so do not overcook. Remove, cool slightly, and cut into 3-4 pieces per shrimp.

In the same pan, add reminaing oil and cook onions for about 3 minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and stir for another minute, to toast the garlic. Add wine; it should sizzle and pick up all the shrimp bits and flavoring at the bottom of the pan. Let the alcohol cook off for a couple minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and once heated through, lower the heat to medium-low and add the heavy cream. Stir to incorporate, the sauce should be lovely and pinkish. Add shrimp.
Once the sauce is done, drain pasta and peas; add directly to the sauce. Stir to coat the pasta; it will finish cooking and soak up the sauce. Add basil and stir to incorporate. Salt and peper to taste. It is very important to add enough salt, as the dish will not taste right otherwise.

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