Monday, April 13, 2015

Lemon Pasta With Shrimp

 While in Las Vegas last fall at Giada's restaurant, I ordered a dish of lemon spaghetti with shrimp. To say it was a disappointment is an understatement. The shrimp were well cooked, although there were few of them (two maybe?) But even worse, the pasta was dry and in some cases, the gummy strands were stuck together and had an insipid flavor instead of with a nice lemon zip. What had sounded so promising left much to be desired. There had to be a better way.

When I saw this bag of artisanal, Italian-made lemon pasta at Claudio's, an Italian specialty food shop in Philadelphia, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

Giada's pasta with shrimp was in for a makeover.

This lemon-flavored pasta may have taken it over the top, but the dish, with plenty of lemon juice and lemon zest, would still be delicious with regular spaghetti (if possible, use an artisanal brand, not the commercial, supermarket variety).

Drain the pasta from the cooking water before it's done, since it will cook for a couple of minutes in the sauce too. But save some of the cooking water, in case you need a little more liquid. After you put in the white wine and cream you'll want to reduce it a bit, but keep in mind that once you throw in the parmesan cheese (off the heat), it will thicken somewhat. Add the parsley and basil just before serving to maintain its fresh color and flavor.

If you live anywhere near Philadelphia, do stop by one of the specialty food shops on South Ninth Street and pick up some of this wonderful pasta made in Gragnano.  Claudio's and DiBruno Brothers are two places any lover of Italian products - pasta, cheeses, salumi - shouldn't miss. If you don't live nearby, click on the links to order online. If you are in the neighborhood, however, there are two stops for pastries that shouldn't be missed: Isgro Pasticceria at 1009 Christian Street and Termini Brothers 1528 South Eighth Street for the best cannoli and Italian pastries this side of Naples.


Join us for a writing retreat in September in one of the most beautiful places on Earth - along the shores of Italy's Lake Como. Click here for more information.

Lemon Shrimp Pasta

printable recipe here

serves two to three

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 T. butter

1 medium shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

about 14 shrimp (or 1/4 pound)

1/4 cup white wine

red pepper flakes

salt, pepper

juice and rind of 1 lemon (about 1/3 cup juice)

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

handful of minced parsley

handful of minced basil

1/2 pound pasta

pasta cooking water, if necessary

Cook the pasta until almost al dente, but drain from the water before it reaches that point. Save about a cup of the cooking water.  In a separate saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil, and cook the shallot until nearly softened, then add the garlic for a few minutes at medium heat, making sure not to burn it. Turn the heat to high, then add the shrimp and cook for a minute or two on each side. Add the white wine, also at high heat, but turn it down to medium and season the shrimp with red pepper flakes (to taste, don't go overboard), salt and pepper. Add the cream, lemon juice and lemon rind and let everything cook together for a few minutes on medium heat to reduce a bit. Don't let it thicken too much because the parmesan cheese will also thicken it a little. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese, the basil and parsley. If it looks too thick, thin it out with a little pasta water.

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