Pasta makes such a satisfying and delicious meal. In my home, we absolutely love pasta in all of its forms. There are so many varieties to chose from and so many flavor profiles which lend their goodness to enhance the humble noodle. Pasta can range in length, size and form; from the well known spaghetti to the flatter, larger fettuccine or thinner linguine. The shorter varieties offer so many shapes and sizes to work with; such as the curly fusilli, novel conchiglie or shells, the ear shaped cavatielli or ridged penne rigate; just to name a few. Each form of pasta was made to be accompanied by a sauce. Spaghetti is fun to eat as you can wind the strands around your fork, trapping the sauce and meat or vegetables in its folds. The shorter hollow forms are amazing at absorbing their accompanying sauces. The result is that every bite is filled with tasty goodness. The inventors of noodles and pasta were absolute geniuses in my opinion.
Penne righted with a mushroom, bacon and tomato sauce
I have been able to build a repertoire of pasta sauces over the years. From the simple and satisfying ragu or bolognaise sauce which is basically a thick tomato based stew studded with fresh herbs, wine, aromatics, a few key vegetables like carrot and mushrooms and ground meat. The sauce is simmered slowly becoming a hearty sauce ; which for many years has been an old faithful standby for me and my family. Another well loved sauce which I prepare is a creamy rich white Alfredo sauce. With the addition of crisp fried bacon or pancetta and an egg, it becomes a Carbonara sauce. Pasta can be wonderful with just a few ingredients like a killer tomato sauce with just fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil. No meat needed here just the purity of the simple sauce. A tomato sauce can also be ramped up with olives, capers, garlic, lots of red pepper seeds, and anchovies transforms into my absolute favorite; a puttanesca sauce.
In my family, a favorite pasta sauce which I came up with a while ago, is actually blend of tomato and cream sauce. This pasta sauce works wonderfully well with both shrimp or lobster. As the seafood cooks quickly, this dish can be made in 30 minutes or less. It’s the perfect one dish pasta meal and is guaranteed satisfy both the pasta and shrimp lover.
Creamy Tomato Shrimp Pasta
1 lb spaghetti or linguine
1 1/2 – 2lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined
14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh chopped basil
2 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup white or red wine
1 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
In a small bowl place cleaned shrimp and season with the following:
1 tsp chopped garlic
A dash of all purpose seasoning salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rum
Mix together and set aside to marinate for 5-10 minutes.
In a large pot, place water for pasta to boil. Add a clove of garlic and salt to the water. When water comes to a rapid boil, add the pasta. When pasta is done, reserve 1 1/2 cups of pasta water for use in the sauces. This will help to thicken the sauces slightly. Remember that the pasta water has added salt, so it is always better to use salt lightly in the sauces and you can adjust as needed.
In a medium pot, add 2 tbsp olive and sauté garlic and onions. Add the tomato paste and pepper flakes. Add the tin of diced tomatoes and liquid. Pour 1/4 cup wine, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes and then add 1 cup pasta water and sugar. Put on a medium heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes to thicken and reduce. Taste for salt and seasoning and adjust accordingly if necessary. If tomato sauce is too acidic, add a little bit more of sugar to balance the flavors.
In a sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and quickly sauté the shrimp until they turn pink. Squeeze half of a lime over the shrimp and remove from heat. It is better that the shrimp be undercooked as they will be added to the sauces later in. This process is rapid and takes no more than 5 mins.
In a pot, heat cream, 1/2 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp chopped garlic, fresh ground black pepper and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Add 1/4 cup pasta water and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup of the tomato sauce to the cream sauce and combine. Depending on whether you prefer a more tomato based sauce, you can add more or less red sauce. Transfer the sauce to the pot in which you boiled the pasta. Add the cooked pasta and shrimp and combine everything together over med/ low heat for no longer than 2 minutes. Sprinkle freshly chopped herbs and serve.
Each of these sauces can be served separately. You may also add the cooked shrimp to the tomato sauce or to the cream sauce without combining them.
Adding freshly chopped flat leaf Italian parsley and fresh basil will always make your sauce fresher and brighter than simply using dried herbs.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Love and best wishes from my kitchen!!