Pasta with Shrimp and Lots of Vegetables

This simple pasta dish comes together in less than 30 minutes and is both healthy and delicious.  Serve with whatever pasta you like and a nice hunk of garlic bread to mop up the sauce.

A word on shrimp:  That “fresh” shrimp you see on ice behind the glass case at your grocery store isn’t fresh.  It arrived frozen and it was thawed for you to give the appearance of freshness, when in reality it might have been sitting there a couple of days.  That stuff is more likely to be housing bacteria than the frozen shrimp in the bags.

Almost all commercially available shrimp is deveined and partially peeled within minutes of being harvested and then flash frozen right on the boat.  Processing shrimp this way ensures that if there are any harmful bacteria or shellfish pathogens living in the shrimp at the time they’re harvested, any parasites have no time to make it into the flesh of the shrimp themselves.

Do yourself a favor: save money AND reduce the risk of foodborne illness by buying your shrimp frozen.  Simply thaw in cold water for 15-20 minutes before use; then finish peeling and cook as you wish.

Ingredients

  1. Approximately 1lb frozen raw shrimp, thawed in cold water (16-20 count per pound); more if you’re feeding a crowd.  Once thawed, remove tails and shells prior to cooking for easy eating.
  2. 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  3. 1/4 cup olive oil plus an additional drizzle
  4. 1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  5. 4 teaspoons Aleppo chili flakes or 2 teaspoon regular red chili flakes – divided (meaning to be used separately in different applications)
  6. 1 small shallot, minced
  7. 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced (divided)
  8. Juice of 2 lemons (divided)
  9. 9 cloves garlic (yeah, I know) – 4 slivered thinly lengthwise, 5 finely minced
  10. Medley of fresh vegetables, at least 3 types:  Mushrooms, Asparagus, Snap Peas, Cherry tomatoes, broccoli, etc – go for color as well as taste in terms of variety
  11. Dash of white wine or white vermouth
  12. 1 lb pasta cooked according to package directions

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.
  2. Add olive oil, slivered garlic, half the chili flakes and anchovy paste to a medium size skillet.  Turn heat on to low heat.  Slowly bring to a gentle sizzle and cook 3-6 minutes until garlic begins to get translucent and anchovy paste is dissolved in oil.  Do not allow garlic to brown.
  3. Raise heat to medium.  Add shallot and cook 1 minute.  Add vegetables and 1/3 of minced garlic and toss to coat with oil.  Stir occasionally until vegetables are cooked and crisp-tender.
  4. Add pasta to vegetable mixture (or vice versa, depending on which pot will hold everything) and stir to combine.  Over low heat, continue stirring, adding pasta water a few splashes at a time until a sauce has formed.  Cover and set aside.
  5. In a separate skillet, add cold butter and drizzle (2 tablespoons or so) olive oil and melt butter over medium-high heat until foamy.  Add remaining chili flakes and then the shrimp.  Toss to coat.  Cook shrimp* for 1 minute, then add the remainder of the minced garlic.  Continue to toss and stir until shrimp are barely opaque.
  6. Add dash of white wine, juice of 1 lemon, and half the parsley and toss to combine.  Off the heat,  cover, and allow to rest for a few minutes.
  7. Serve out vegetable pasta on to separate plates.  Spoon shrimp over pasta along with lots of the garlic-butter sauce.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

*Note:  Don’t overcook the shrimp.  They should be just barely opaque when the heat is turned off.  Turn them off just before they are done; they will cook through in the next step.  The number 1 mistake people make cooking shrimp is turning them into rubber.  Don’t do this!

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