Monday, June 24, 2013

Stretching Shrimp: Shrimp with Onion, White Beans & Tomatoes over Pasta

Shrimp is not a cheap food. It's not lobster, but it's not exactly budget. Here's a recipe that takes some shrimp and stretches it with some canned white beans. It's based on an Italian dish from Tuscany, though that dish is not a sauce for pasta. I had some feta cheese so I crumbled it on top for garnish. This is a totally un-Italian thing to do. Italians think grated cheese on seafood is sacrilege for the most part (and they certainly wouldn't use feta). Hey, I'm not Italian and it tasted good!

For this dish, you will saute some chopped onions. This is what they will look like when you are ready to proceed to the next step. You don't want them to brown.

The timing in this recipe assumes you are using regular spaghetti, not angel hair. If you substitute another pasta shape, you'll need to tweak the cooking time.

Shrimp with Onion, White Beans & Tomatoes over Pasta
(serves 6, costs $12.65)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
¾ pound chopped Roma tomatoes or 1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 15-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
1 pound medium to large peeled and deveined shrimp
1 pound spaghetti (whole wheat or regular)
crumbled feta cheese for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet with a cover (see Note) over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, get a big pot of water started for the pasta. When the onions are light golden (see picture), add the crushed red pepper, tomatoes, and white beans. Stir and cook until tomatoes start to soften, about 5 minutes. Use a fork or potato masher to break the tomatoes into small pieces.

By now, your pasta water should be boiling. If not, cook the tomatoes until the pasta water does come to a boil. Reduce the heat for the sauce to medium-low. Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Set the timer for 6 minutes. When it goes off, add the vermouth and shrimp to the tomato mixture. Stir and cover the skillet. Set the timer for another 5 minutes.

When the timer goes off again, add about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to the shrimp and stir. This will make a sauce. If it doesn't seem saucy enough, add some more water; it will thicken up from the starch in the pasta and the beans. Check to see if the spaghetti is done. Continue cooking it another minute or two if it's still crunchy in the middle.  Taste the sauce and add salt if needed (shrimp is fairly salty so you don't need much). Drain the spaghetti and mix with the sauce. Serve with crumbled feta cheese, if desired.

Note: Don't have a cover for your skillet? Use a cookie sheet.

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