Tuesday, October 04, 2011

lemon shrimp capellini with cheese and pepper

If it was carb-friendly (and socially acceptable), I'd probably eat pasta every day. But my favorite pasta dishes aren't the deep-dish, cheesy, bubbly-baked varities. I most love the simple recipes with the fewest ingredients. A combination of Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh lemon is what I crave as much as anything. Add in some shrimp, and life is a walk on the divine side.

I could never get away with this if Ty were home -- he gets a little antsy if we don't have a juicy steak or some other hunk of meat at dinner time, although he'll indulge my pasta love affair once or twice a week (as long as I make Italian sausage to add to his share) -- but I've probably made some version of this pasta dish 5 or 6 times over the past two weeks. I love having it in the refrigerator to heat up whenever I want a quick, yummy meal. The leftovers are as good as the original, for sure.
I was inspired by an easy recipe (spaghetti with cheese & pepper) from one of my favorite blogs. It was especially appealing because the ingredients were something I could always find in my kitchen. I did some tweaking, and now it's become a staple for me.

Most of the ingredient amounts in this recipe are by preference, and it's tough to label exact amounts used -- you just sort of have to feel your way through it. But it's a great base from which to spring -- the potential possibilities are endless. If you prefer chicken to shrimp (or have extra rotesserie chicken meat that you need to use), make the substitution. Adding green peas would be yummy (and pretty!) too. And when I feel the need for some extra zing, I add red pepper flakes.
As I've shared before, I keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer and just run it under cold water in a colander to defrost.
If you find a simpler dish than this, I want to hear about it! :)

box of capellini
1/2 cup (or more!) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
approx. 1/2 pound shrimp
6 - 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
zest and juice of l lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
a nice amount of freshly-grated black pepper (approx. 2 tablespoons)

Cook pasta according to directions, generously seasoning water with salt before adding pasta.

Important! Reserve roughly 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cooking water before straining the pasta (I just scoop it out with a Pyrex measuring glass abut half-way through the cooking process). Drain the pasta into a colander and set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and saute garlic. Cook and stir until just fragrant (approximately one minute). Add lemon zest and salt and pepper to season. Add defrosted (or fresh) peeled shrimp and cook until heated through (I usually cover for a minute or two to speed up the process).

Place the grated cheese into the bottom of the hot pasta pot and add in small amounts of the reserved cooking water, a little at a time. Mix together just until creamy.

Add the cooked pasta to the cheese and water mixture in the pot and stir. Add the shrimp and lemon mixture and a generous amount of grated pepper, continuing to stir together. If needed, add more of the reserved cooking water as you go.

Transfer to serving bowl and squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on top, to taste. Garnish with a slice of lemon and serve immediately.


Library Girl said...

Ok, see... I am not such a horrible cook, but with recipes like this when you are to add the cheese while the recipe is still cooking (as opposed to topping it off after removing it from heat), I have the same problem.. clumps and globs of grated cheese in what otherwise would be a great recipe. It happened last time you posted another recipe similar to this one... and I don't know what I'm doing wrong? Thoughts?

Mustang Sally said...

Looks delish! I do the same thing with frozen shrimp. Only I add a healthy dose of cajun seasoning from the spicerack and add a dash of sweet chili sauce. And serve over fresh spinach or other greens for a diabetic friendly warm salad.