Sunday, March 20, 2011

Faux Fettucini: Asparagus, Shrimp and Tomatoes

I've spent the weekend in Chicago to help my friend Kate with the last bit of recovery for an extensive eye surgery. We've had a good time hanging out! I've had a weekend filled with yoga and cooking. We wanted to make her about a week's worth of food to have in the freezer. This would enable Kate to simply open the freezer, pick something, and heat it up. Enter Friday night's dinner.

Faux Fettucini with Asparagus, Shrimp and Tomatoes

This creation almost isn't a recipe. It is like writing a recipe for spaghetti - cook noodles, add sauce and eat. First, I cut up the asparagus into one inch pieces and set it aside. Then I gutted and diced two roma tomatoes. I ran the frozen shrimp under cool water to defrost and set them aside as well. I boiled a pot of water and added the 100% durum wheat pasta.


Whole wheat pasta can be very off putting for many people because of the ridiculously chewy texture. I'm not a big fan of whole wheat pasta unless it is cooked very thoroughly. I'm also not a fan of enriched pasta. I don't need white flour enriched with B vitamins and folic acid and whatever else the food companies think I may need in my body. No. I'm a fan of what is typically considered to be Italian pasta - 100% durum wheat pasta. It looks yellow so it more closely resembles the enriched pasta most Americans are used to. The texture had great bite and it isn't too chewy. Read the boxes of pasta at the store! I suggest selecting one that has the fewest ingredients possible (this is my general rule on ALL processed foods). I'm a big proponent of making your own pasta because it is cheap, easy, and you know what went into it. However, this is not always practical, therefore you should take time to find a pasta you enjoy.

Moving on to the juicy part! While the pasta is cooking, saute one minced garlic clove in about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add your asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Cook the asparagus longer if you must. I like to maintain it's snappy integrity. Add the tomatoes and cook 3-5 minutes. Reduce the pan to a low simmer and add about a cup of half and half and a handful (half a cup or a bit more) of parmasean and/or asiago cheese (use the real stuff! Dust inside of green shelf stable containers doesn't count. A little real cheese goes a long way towards making your dish pop with flavor). Simmer and reduce.

When the pasta is almost finished, add your shrimp (as many as you want! We used about 15) into the asparagus/tomato/cheese/half and half mixture. Add a bit of freshly ground black pepper. I omit any salt here because of the natural saltiness of the cheese, but, add a pinch if you must. Cook the shrimp until they just turn pink - they'll finish cooking in the heat of the dish and you don't want to overcook them and end up with chewy shrimp.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Using tongs, gently mix the pasta in with the sauce. Turn off the stove. Let sit 5 minutes to absorb sauce and finish cooking. Serve. Devour and enjoy.

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