Cook’s Recipe: Shrimp Scampi

“The sea provides everything we need” barked the captain from the controls as the airship dipped low over the sea. Up above, the fire elemental that powered the ship bellowed in response. Rizgail bent down and let his fingers drift through the cool water as he watched one of his companions, Barth, hauled a net back over the side of the railing. Dozens of tiny crustaceans flopped about on the deck. Barth surveyed the scene, then chuckled and said “Just think of how much we could catch if we used a bag of holding instead!”

Rizgail thought for a moment.  Picking up the bag he began to walk toward the galley, the smell of lemons and herbs already wafting out mixing with the salty sea air. Allistar would be pleased by the bounty. “Well, if this adventuring thing doesn’t pan out Barth, you and I will get a ship of our own, and go into business together. But first, I’d very much like to eat.”

This is a great meal for several reasons. First of all, it is incredibly quick. More or less in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta, the entire meal is finished with minimal effort. This makes it an ideal meal for a date or special occasion. It is elegant in its simplicity, but doesn’t require so much effort that you spend more time at the stove than with your guest(s). Second is that aside from the shrimp the entire recipe uses ingredients that you probably have on hand regularly, making this excellent for clearing out the pantry, or in a pinch when supplies begin to run low.

A note about the ingredients. While pasta is called for here, any pasta can be used as a substitute, as could rice.  Additionally, using fresh, uncooked shrimp is essential as the shrimp will add flavor to the sauce as they cook. Any local fishmonger will be happy to de-vein and peel your shrimp if you ask. If you must use pre-cooked shrimp simply wait till the sauce is simmering and add them to heat through.

Some other additions to the dish can be any vegetable like asparagus, peas, etc. Simply par boil to soften, then add to the pan along with the pasta and shrimp and allow it to heat through. In the case of frozen vegetables, place them into the pot as the sauce is simmering to give them extra time to thaw and heat.

For a different flavor and texture you could also grill the shrimp separately before combining with the sauce and pasta.

Shrimp Scampi with Spaghetti
Serves 3 people

1 pound of pasta  
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined, tails still on
3 tablespoons butter
Olive oil
1 cup White Wine
1/3 cup shrimp or seafood stock (optional: for more substantial sauce)

1/3 cup Lemon Juice
1/3 cup chopped parsley
5 gloves of garlic crushed
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Large saucepan
Large pot

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Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add in the crushed garlic and gently saute. Do not allow the garlic to burn as it will infuse the oil with a bitter flavor. Raise the heat slightly as the garlic cooks. Once golden brown, remove the garlic. The oil will be infused with the garlic flavor, but there won’t be bits of it in the sauce.

Ensure the pan is at medium high heat and reasonably hot. Place the shrimp in the oil and saute for 2 minutes on each side, till they begin to turn pink, but are not fully cooked through. Remove the shrimp and set aside.

Add the white wine, lemon juice, garlic powder and half the cheese to the pan and allow the mixture to simmer till it reduces by about a third. Add the butter and stir, allowing it to melt and thicken the sauce. Then add half the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta till it is almost al-dente. Remove from the pot and transfer it to the pan with the sauce. Reserve a small ladle full of pasta water and add to the sauce. Add the shrimp back and allow to cook another minute, mixing generously. Just prior to service, garnish with the remaining parsley and cheese.