Last night I knew I would not be able to start dinner until 6.30pm., so earlier that morning I stuck some frozen shrimp in the fridge to defrost. If I have no time to dilly-dally over food, I usually cook some kind of fish or sea food. It is lightning fast without compromising the tiniest bit on flavor. If I had the money, I would eat fish most nights, but being 3 and 4 times the price per serving of most cuts of meat it is not a luxury I can afford. I often have these romantic notions of living by a good clean river and heading out with my fishing rod each evening to catch my supper!
I used to live by a river when I was studying to be a silversmith in Ireland. It was a beautiful little stone house that stood on the perimeter of an idyllic village. There was a path on one side of the road with a high stone wall, and on the other side of the street ran the river the town was built on. The road and river were separated by another wall, but this one was waist-high, and good for leaning and sitting on. I took up fishing, and did manage to catch my dinner pretty regularly. It was mostly trout, but sometimes, when I was lucky enough to go fishing with friends with more experience than I, there were a few salmon dinners aswell. Those were the days…
Last night I consoled myself with the fact that even though my shrimp were not caught by me, all of my vegetables came from either my garden, or from my CSA, Good Work Farm (read more top right of my blog). It was a sumptuous feast and was way too easy to eat! The last-minute addition of fresh heirloom tomatoes was the clincher. It would have been a sin to cook them, so I didn’t, and just threw them into my bowl right before I was ready to eat. This dinner was ready in 25 minutes, so get crackin’!
You will need: 1 lb shrimp, shelled & deveined (use the 31-40 count size per lb), 2 tbs unsalted butter, 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced, 2 green peppers, small dice (if your peppers are large, use 1 not 2), 3 long skinny red peppers, sliced (or 1 red pepper, small dice), 1 medium onion, small dice, 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 1 cup cooked pasta water, (you will have this ingredient after you cook your penne), 2 very good quality seasonal red tomatoes, diced (optional, and, only if they are great tasting), sea-salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 lb penne pasta (I used the mini ridged penne by Barilla)
1 – Prep all veggies and shrimp.
2 – Season the shrimp with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put big saute pan on medium to high heat and add oil and 1 tbs of butter. When the oil is hot and butter melts, add the shrimp (make sure they are dry) and cook, tossing frequently for about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove to a bowl and turn heat down to medium.
2 – Put all the prepped vegetables into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, (you may need to add more oil). Put lid on pan and continue to cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so., (also, adjust pan heat if necessary).
3 – Take lid off and add the broth and cream. Let it get warm and then add 1 tablespoon of butter. Mix gently until it is completely incorporated. Turn off heat.
4 – While vegetables are cooking, boil pasta according to instructions. Right before draining, remove 1 cup of cooked pasta water and reserve. Drain pasta and toss directly into pan sauce. Add the shrimp and reserved pasta water, and stir. Taste for addition of sea-salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
Divide between warm shallow bowls to serve.
You can also add some freshly chopped raw tomatoes to the finished dish. It was an amazing garnish, giving the dish a sweet and tangy burst.
As well as the fresh tomatoes, I also gilded the lily with a good grating of Parm cheese.