What are we all quarantine-cooking for dinner? Here at Building Chicago we’re going to whip up some shrimp and creamy pasta with a great green veggie. Growing up, seafood was one of my mother’s favorites. She’d cart me and my two brothers to her favorite seafood restaurant and we’d get to order from the adult menu. What bliss. My youngest brother always chose crab legs and wrestled to get to that sweet crab meat, finished with warm drawn butter; my middle brother usually chose a burger – interesting choice for a seafood restaurant. I’d typically choose the shrimp or crab alfredo. As I grew older and began to enjoy creating meals similar to the restaurants we’d frequent, I noticed a few tips and tricks to get that restaurant-quality finish. I surely miss dining out; now, let’s recreate that restaurant quality food that we’re all so nostalgic about to enjoy at our dining room tables with our families.
What you’ll need for this meal:
• Raw Shrimp or Prawns
• Short-length Pasta of Your Choice
• Milk or Milk Substitute
• Green Veggie
• Shaved Almonds
• Cream Cheese or Non-Dairy Substitute
• Salt & Pepper
• Chopped Garlic (Ready to Use or Fresh)
• Regular Olive Oil
First, clean, de-vein and prepare the shrimp for seasoning. Take a paring knife and slice the shrimp on the posterior side of each piece and remove the vein that’s there. It should be a dark, almost black vein that you can see through the translucent flesh of the shrimp. Although your preference, it may be easier to remove the scales of the shrimp before de-veining.
Next, heat your oven to 400 degrees and place the almonds in a baking pan and dress with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 10-13 minutes until toasted and set aside.
Season both sides of your cleaned shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside. Use a cast iron skillet and line the pan with regular olive oil and heat the oil on medium heat. Be cautious in using extra virgin olive oil to sauté food as this coating should only be used for raw applications; the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is too low and will make any food you sear take-on a bitter taste.
Now, add chopped shallots to the pan and sauté until translucent. Remove the cooked shallots from the pan and set aside. In the same pan add the chopped garlic and sauté until the garlic converts to a goldenrod, almost brown hue. Keep-watch of the garlic as it will burn easily. Stirring regularly and careful attention will limit the risk of burn. Remove the garlic from the pan and set aside.
Cool your pan by rinsing with cold water and wipe clean with cloth or a paper towel. Add a fresh coating of olive oil and heat to the pan over medium heat and sear the shrimp until the edges turn pink. Once pink, flip each prawn until the middle of the shrimp turns opaque in color. Note: be sure not to purchase shrimp that is already pink in color in the package. This packaged shrimp is already cooked and is typically for use in shrimp cocktail or other dishes that call for prepared shrimp. Searing cooked shrimp will overcook the prawns and create a rubbery texture, ruining your dish.
Once you’ve seared all cleaned and seasoned shrimp, place the cooked shrimp in a 170 degree oven to keep warm while you finish the other dishes.
Next, take ½ of your sautéed shallots and ½ of the seared garlic and add to your skillet. Add about a cup of milk or milk substitute to the pan and heat on medium-high. Add salt and pepper to your cream mixture and add about ¼ cup of cream cheese or cream cheese substitute to the pan. Take this opportunity to taste the mixture and see what the dish needs. Is more garlic or onion appropriate? Perhaps it needs a dash more of salt or pepper. You choose and reduce until your desired consistency is met.
Now, bring water to a rapid boil and add your desired pasta and cook as directed on the package’s instructions. Cook until al dente or firm to the bite; drain and add to your reduced cream sauce and mix.
For this dinner, I chose green beans, but this method of cooking will work for any green vegetable you choose. Take a sauce pan or skillet and place your green vegetable in a bit of water. Here’s the key: do not cover your vegetables in water as you want to steam them, rather than boil them. Heat the pan over high heat, cover and steam until the vegetables turn a bright green. Quickly drain and add olive oil, seared garlic, shallots and toasted almonds.
Plate your shrimp and add the seared garlic and sautéed shallots on top and include the pasta and green vegetables and enjoy.
Note: All recipes on Building Chicago encourage you to estimate ingredients where possible and tap into your inner food artist to create wonderful nourishment for yourself and loved ones. Use your senses of taste, vision and feel to create dishes that you like and love. In order of progression, take a look at the photos and follow along…and remember: get creative, builders!
Shrimp or Prawns
De-vein & Remove Scales
Bake Until Toasted
Season Shrimp with Salt & Pepper & Set Aside
Sauté Shallots Until Translucent
Brown Your Garlic
Shrimp is Ready for Turning When the Edges are Pink
Creamy Garlic Sauce Time
Reduce Your Cream Mixture
Add Your Cooked Pasta and Stir
Fresh Green Beans
Snip Those Ends and Get Ready for Steaming
Now Plate and Enjoy, Builders!
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