Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Howard's Birthday with Spicy Shrimp Pasta and Bosc Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

Yesterday we enjoyed a visit from Howard and Jan for the occasion of Howard's birthday. Howard and Jan like the spicy as much as Matt I decided that Spicy Shrimp Pasta was a good main meal. After Black Olive Trempherbe for an appetizer, a refreshing simple salad beforehand was the first course. Jan brought a gorgeous marble pound cake for dessert.

Spicy Shrimp Pasta is a very easy dish that tastes as though it were much harder. I use store-made fettuccine for I do not have a pasta machine ( birthday is next month...hint hint Mom). However, the sauce is so intense, you almost forget that you aren't eating it with perfect pasta (almost). This dish is my variation on what my mother always made on Christmas Eve. Italians are supposed to eat 7 fishes on Christmas Eve, but my father really preferred just shrimp, and Mom needed a quick nice dinner to make around church and other festivities. Mom would boil the shrimp beforehand and use significantly tamer chiles. In addition to pan searing the shrimp, I also use Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (these aren't cheap, but frequently I find printable coupons online which make them cheaper than the regular storebrand non-fire roasted sort).

To make the Spicy Shrimp Pasta for four people:
Put a big pot of water on to boil. While it comes to a boil you'll be prepping and cooking the shrimp and sauce. Take out a large skillet and pour in a couple TBS of olive oil. Place four peeled and crushed garlic cloves and four Tien Tsin peppers in the oil and cook over medium-high heat until peppers darken and garlic cloves are golden brown. Discard peppers and garlic. While peppers and garlic were toasting, this is when you prep the shrimp. You want to remove the entire shell and tail and also devein. For each person you want about 12 medium shrimp.

Over medium high heat, throw the shrimp into the skillet with the seasoned oil in a single layer. Cook for a couple minutes, turn, cook for another couple minutes until curled, pink and tender. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside in a bowl. Pour in one 28 oz. can of Crushed Fire Roasted Tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

The water should have come to a boil by now. If not, no problem, the sauce can cook a little longer. If it came to a boil earlier, you can drop the heat on it and now raise the heat back up and it will come back to a boil quickly. If you haven't done so already, generously salt the water (a couple palmfuls for a big pot). Dump in one pound of fettuccine or other long flat pasta and cook the pasta as instructed. When buying dry, I prefer Colavita. Pastene is OK, it is not gummy and has a nice taste, but the pasta has a tendency to stick to each other while cooking, no matter how much stirring, and that creates the occasional hard bite where the pasta didn't cook through properly.

Drain pasta, place back into big pot. Add shrimp and accumulated juices to tomato sauce. Toss sauce with pasta. Serve. Breath deeply and enjoy your cleared sinuses from the pepper and garlic.

We preceded the pasta with a simple salad that is a scaled down and autumnal version of my Grilled Peach Salad. Same mixed baby greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, and same toasted pecans and gorgonzola. Leave out the dried cranberries, and substitute peeled, cored, and sliced Bosc pear for the grilled peaches. This salad could also be made into a entree-size salad, with some white bean bruschetta on the side to round out the meal.

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