A one pot, easy, 45-minute weeknight dinner that’s delicious and elegant enough for a dinner party!
It’s funny how people’s opinions range from one end of the spectrum to the other, isn’t it? Years ago, I was in charge of an annual workshop at our church that registered over a thousand women. There was a wonderful team of ladies that worked together for nine months to make sure every detail of the event was taken care of. When the big day arrived, it seemed that most everything ran like clockwork.
It always brought a smile though, a few weeks after the event, when we reviewed the surveys the participants had filled out before they left the event.
For the most part, the ladies loved the day and found it to be a source of great inspiration. It was over the little details however, that some of the survey-takers found fault. “The chicken salad was wonderful.” The chicken salad was awful”. “That was good tuna salad.” (We didn’t serve any tuna salad!). “The sound was too loud.” “Couldn’t you turn up the sound system?” and on and on it went…
Although we’re still getting results from The Café Reader’s Survey 2016 that many of you completed last week, it has already helped us know more of what Café readers really like and want. There were a few things (as with my church event), that your opinions were quite polar opposites: “More pictures.” “Not so many pictures.” “Not so many travel pictures.” “More travel pictures.” “More desserts.” “Not so many sweets”… Those are things we’ll weigh carefully, yet we know that we can’t please everyone.
There were lots of things, however, that were very consistent, things the majority of you would like to see more of in 2016 from us, and we’re already working on those. Some of the things that were at the top of your list were: Healthy Recipes, Quick Easy Dinner Recipes, Dinner Party Quality, Every-Day-Easy Recipes and Party/Entertaining Recipes. You also voted for more Salads, Slow Cooker Recipes and Step-by-Step Tutorials.
Guess what? Your answers have inspired lots of new ideas for me, and I think you’ll love what we’ve got in store for the weeks and months ahead. As a matter of fact, today’s recipe; this Skillet Shrimp and Pasta Scampi checks off several of the boxes, as it’s a Quick Easy Dinner Recipe as well as being a Dinner Party Quality. It’s also an Every-Day-Easy Recipe, as it comes together in less than an hour – with only one pan! It’s definitely delicious and gourmet-ish enough to please your fanciest guests.
And although Shrimp Scampi is usually dripping with butter, this recipe is also decently Healthy, with 25 grams of protein and only 3.1 grams of saturated fat. I adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated, and though I cut some of the fat out of their recipe, I don’t believe any flavor was sacrificed. Young and old alike have gobbled this up when I’ve served it!
If you’re looking for a sure-bet winner, I recommend this fabulous, one Skillet Shrimp and Pasta Scampi dinner. I used Trottole-shaped pasta (which can be found at most larger grocers), but any larger pasta would also work well. I think Gemelli, Campenelle or Chiocciole would be really fun shapes for this dish. The pasta is cooked right in the skillet, which I was a bit skeptical about but it comes out just perfect, actually even better, as it’s simmered in chicken stock, giving it lots of flavor.
Pick up some shrimp next time you’re at the market. I am a bit lazy, so I like the shrimp that’s already been peeled and deveined, but use whatever kind you prefer. Just buy the largest you can find/afford as larger shrimp seem to work better in this dish. I think you’ll be shocked at how easy, quick and super delicious this dinner is. Go ahead, start planning your next dinner party, you’ve already got the majority of the menu figured out!
P.S. I would serve this Skillet Shrimp and Pasta Scampi with a crusty loaf of warm bread and a simple green salad. For dessert? Well, I’m so glad you asked! There are lots of options but going along with the quick and easy theme, I’d be tempted to serve these Chocolate Pots de Créme (5-minutes hands-on time!) or this French Almond Cake (no mixer required!).
- 11 (yes 11!) medium cloves large garlic cloves*, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 ¼ pounds shrimp, large (I use the 21-25 count bag size)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (crushed red pepper) (rub the faces between your fingers to break up a bit.)
- ½ cup dry white wine**
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 12 ounces pasta***
- 3 tablespoons parsley, minced
- Firmly crush all cloves of garlic with the flat side of a chef's knife. I just place my knife on top of a clove and, with the heel of my hand, give it a good tap (maybe more of a whack). This will loosen the skin so it's easy to peel off. Make a garlic paste with 2 of the peeled cloves: roughly chop garlic then sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Repeatedly press and drag the side of a large knife over the mixture till it turns into a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, lemon zest and pepper. Set aside. Slice remaining garlic super thin and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place shrimp in a medium-size bowl. Combine ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl and stir. Sprinkle salt mixture over shrimp and toss to coat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 12″ skillet over high heat until melted and bubbly. Add shrimp and spread to a single layer. Allow shrimp to brown slightly without stirring for about 2 minutes. Stir for about 1 minute, until shrimp turn pink, opaque and begin to curl. Don't overcook or shrimp will be dry and tough. Remove shrimp to a plate and cover to keep warm.
- Reduce heat to very low. Add remaining tablespoon of oil, sliced garlic and red pepper flakes to pan. Stirring frequently, cook garlic until just beginning to turn golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add the wine, increase heat to medium high and simmer, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until wine has pretty much evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Add water, broth and pasta to pan and increase heat to produce a vigorous simmer. Once broth is simmering, cook for about 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently (but very gently to keep pasta intact), until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has thickened, about 12-15 minutes. Taste a noodle at 12 minutes to determine if you need a minute or two more. Don't let liquid completely evaporate. There should be some left under and between the noodles.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in the garlic/oil mixture. Cook for another minute, gently tossing pasta till it is well coated with the sauce. If sauce seems scant, just add a bit more broth to loosen it up. Add shrimp, taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with more fresh, finely chopped parsley and lemon wedges.
** I generally use Brancott Savignon Blanc from New Zealand. You can usually find it at Costco and it's reasonably priced with great quality.
*** I used Trottole-shaped pasta which you can find at most larger grocers, but any large pasta would also work