As a 5’4″ Asian woman I understand that the world is sizeist. The first place podium towers over 2 and 3, the successful reach the “heights of success” while the downtrodden are um, down. The average height for the president of the United States is a little under 6 feet, almost 3 inches above average and apparently you can expect a paycut and a shorter glass ceiling if you’re vertically challenged too. Am I bitter? Nope, cuz unlike the 6 foot hubster, I don’t feel like a pretzel when we fly, I can curl up and take a nap pretty much anywhere, and great things come in small packages like puppies and shrimp 🙂
This is a quick and easy dish that you can whip out on a weeknight or even trot out to impress guests. Why? Cuz this deceptively simple dish is a feast for the senses. The visual contrast of red, white, and green draw your eyes in with anticipation. Your taste buds will dance with the tangy concentrated tomato! of the sun-dried tomatoes, spicy red pepper, savory shrimp and zesty basil. The textures of the meaty shrimp, slightly chewy tomatoes, and tender pasta all work to keep your mouth interested. While I feel the salty seared shrimp and carby spaghetti go well together but if you’re not a fan of shrimp, searing some chicken breast and cutting it into bite-sized pieces also works well too.
Help for the shrimpy:
1) Do not boil pasta and then rinse it off in water so it can sit in the colander until you’re ready for it if you can at all avoid it. Why? Cuz rinsing the pasta also gets rid of all that sticky starch on the outside that lets your delicious sauce adhere to and flavor that lovely pasta. That’s also why it’s best not to add oil to pasta water because while it may keep the pasta from sticking together it will also coat the pasta and prevent the sauce from sticking to it as well resulting in a bland slightly greasy carb bomb. Most sauces, unless they’re a delicate emulsion will be perfectly fine just sitting for the 10-5 minutes it takes to cook pasta.
2) How to tell when your shrimp is done cooking? The raw flesh will not only turn opaque but also pink and the texture will change from mushy to firm. Why do shrimp and other crustaceans turn pink/red when cooked? The heat from cooking denatures or unwinds the proteins in the shell/on the surface allowing the pigment proteins (astaxanthin in this case) to be exposed.
3) If you don’t have a window herb garden but still want the added zing of fresh over dried herbs you can finely chop then freeze your herbs in 1 tbsp measures using an ice cube tray. A lot of companies make smaller sized, ~1 tbsp cube trays (even in silicone so they’re easy to pop out). Once they’re frozen, you can pop them out and store them in zip bags and reclaim that valuable freezer real estate.
1 lb jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 + 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp (2 cloves) crushed garlic
2 oz (1/4 c) sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil, finely chopped
1/4 c dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 + 1 tsp salt
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh (1 tsp dried) basil
1 lb spaghetti
Season shrimp with salt and crushed red pepper. Heat 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil on med-hi heat in a large sauté pan or skillet with a 2-3 inch lip till aromatic but not smoking. Sauté shrimp till opaque and pink ~2 minutes per side (depending how thick your shrimp are). The heat will release more oils from the red pepper adding to your spicy capsicum enjoyment 🙂 Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.
In the same sauté pan, melt butter and remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté till golden ~1 minute. Deglaze pan with wine then add tomatoes and 1 tsp salt then sauté for another 2-3 minutes till tomatoes are soft. Stir in basil and remove from heat.
While sauce is cooking, boil water and remaining 1 tsp salt in a large ~5 quart pot. This sauce is very quick and easy so you should be done with the sauce ~5-7 minutes before the pasta finishes. Don’t forget to periodically stir (or separate the pasta with tongs if you have them) to keep it from sticking together as it cooks.
Add half of pasta to tomato pan and mix well and cook on medium heat. Mix in remaining pasta. Remove from heat and return shrimp and any accumulated juices to the pan and mix. Add additional salt to taste. Serves 4, maybe even 5 if you’re small like me 😉