Did you know I love Italian food? As a child my favorite food was ravioli… then lasagna… then ravioli and lasagna. Since then I’ve graduated to adore other cuisines (I don’t think I can live without Indian/Pakistani or Thai food) but I have a secret longing for it sometimes that I cannot normally satiate. All that pasta, all that glorious carbohydrate-rich pasta… no, I can’t go there. My round and pudgy inner-child may be bouncing in pure joy at the thought but that’s as far as I can go. Of course every once in a while we all have a fine Italian meal but not nearly as often as was my lifestyle long ago. This may of course be in part because the husband has a distinct lack of fondness for tomato sauce. I know. It hurts me just to write that (please have mercy on him, supreme marinara lords of the Tuscan sun).
On the other hand, throw in cream or butter and the boy sings odes of rapture. What can I do? Cream? Butter? Pasta? Ah, what of it! What’s life without living, what’s food without flavor? So I might as well indulge in rich fun once in a while…
And thus, I decided to make one of his favorite Italian dishes: Shrimp Scampi with only a few adjustments (notably the spice factor, and the whole wheat pasta factor haha). Considering I only marinated/seasoned the shrimp for about 20 minutes prior to cooking as opposed to my usual few hours, I was satisfied with the way it sucked in flavor and spice. Nevertheless, I would recommend seasoning for as long as possible. But that’s just me. But do make this dish! It’s soooooooooo utterly perfect.
- 2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined (I prefer 31-40 count; I don’t like jumbo shrimp that much)
- Olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, grated or minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp plain vinegar
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- 1 yellow onion, very thinly sliced
- Bell Peppers, diced (I used green and yellow this time)
- Garlic powder or paste
- Black Pepper
- Red chili powder
- Pasta of choice, cooked and drained (I used whole wheat rotini because that’s what we had at the time)
- Chili flakes (optional)
- Lime (optional)
Prepare your shrimp (if bought frozen, defrost as directed by the packaging) by a simple seasoning of garlic paste/powder, salt, pepper, and red chili powder. Quantity is hard for me to dictate because I rarely notice what I do, but 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp garlic paste, 1 ½ tsp chili powder may do the trick. You may choose to squeeze a little lime in as well. Set aside and let the flavors soak in a bit (30 minutes).
Boil your pasta, making sure not to overdo it—keep it al dente, then drain and set aside.
In a large skillet or frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium and cook the shrimp until they are completely pink but only just so, which should only take about 5-7 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the pan and save for later. In the same pan, add a little more oil and begin to sauté the onions on medium-low heat, until they soften into silky sultry seduction. Sorry, I have a particular fondness for melty onions. Anyhoo, add the grated garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic and onions combine. I added red chili powder at this point (You know by now that we like it hot).
Add the chicken broth and vinegar (some recipes may call for white wine, but as I don’t use alcohol, I’ve found a little vinegar and broth is a fair substitute in this instance), and reduce to a simmer, letting the flavors swim and swirl together, about 5 minutes. Have a taste and decide how much salt/pepper you might like to add now.
While that’s going, in a separate pan fry your diced veggies on medium heat. You want to cook all the raw crunchiness out and obtain a beautiful mild char on the peppers.
Now, add the shrimp into the garlic sauce, and the veggies once fried. Add the butter, stirring it in entirely. Finally, turn the stove off and add the pasta, tossing and turning so the glorious garlic butter sauce coats each and every crevice. Sprinkle the chili flakes around, and a squeeze of lime all around, for the extra special zing!