Being from New Jersey (yea yea, New Jersey. Loud and proud), I love Italian food. The authentic kind, the pizzeria kind, anything. Oh, except for any Italian food outside of the tri-state area. It just doesn’t taste right. Strange looking opaque cheese on “pizza,” “beef manicotti” that resembles odd looking lumpy and dry meat (or whatever it really is) shoved inside an overcooked shell, and “lobster” ravioli that landed me some intimate time with the porcelain throne. I can go on and on.
So, what do I do? I make the pasta I want. And if it turns out to be a complete failure, I only have myself to be angry with. Not the entire world. It’s a genetic thing, being from New Jersey. I swear, there’s science to prove it.
Here, in Pensacola, we have a huge variety of shrimp to choose from. Fresh shrimp. Not frozen. Not the size of a baby’s finger. Real shrimp. Shrimp so fresh and big that it tastes like a miniature lobster. Who wouldn’t want that?
Out of the variety available, I choose to cook with the Royal Reds. They just never seem to fail to please.
Take a look:
Mixed with a spicy, cream-based, tomato sauce and white wine, this pasta is always a winner.
First: heat up a sauce pan on medium heat. Meanwhile, dice your onions, garlic, and devein your shrimp. (and boil your pasta!)
Second: add some olive oil and the onions to the pan. Sauté for at least 5 minutes; you want them to be nearly caramelized.
Third: after 5 minutes, add your garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes. Watch your heat and make sure not to burn your garlic.
Note: if you have either whole or diced tomatoes like me, blend them up in your blender/food processor.
Fourth: Add your 1.5 cups of tomatoes and 1/3 cup of tomato paste. Stir.
Fifth: add 1 tablespoon of sugar to begin with, as well as 1 teaspoon of salt. Canned tomatoes tend to be extremely tart so adding these two balances it out really well. Adjust to your liking. You will most likely have to add more sugar.
Sixth: add 1/2 cup of white wine. I use whatever is the cheapest at the store. I know, I have class. Today, I used sauvignon blanc. Adding this white wine is crucial; it really brightens the flavor of the sauce, which compliments the seafood in it.
Seventh: let simmer for 1 minute; add 1/2 cup of heavy cream. You can add more or less, depending on your love for dairy. At this point, you can add 1 teaspoon of chili flakes (if you’d like).
Eighth: toss in your shrimp and let cook for at most 2 minutes. The biggest mistake many people make is letting your shrimp cook far too long. This results in chewy and rubbery shrimp. Letting them cook for the minimum amount of time results in sweet and soft shrimp.
Ninth: add in your pasta, toss again and enjoy!
Extras: you can use any pasta you’d like of course. I usually prefer linguine but I felt bow-tie-y today.
You can also add in any other seafoods, such as squid, clams, mussels, you name it. The white wine will make it all taste great.