Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tomato Shrimp Scampi

So, I think my fellow dinner mates have renewed confidence in my ability to prepare an edible meal following the Fish & Chips debacle, which, of course, you didn’t read about but I told you about in my Fish Taco post.

We should admit our mistakes, right?  

But, let’s redirect our attention to scampi.  Not just any scampi but one of the easiest, most delicious recipes I’ve ever made.  I never made scampi before this recipe -- which I have made many times -- so I can't comment on how it compares to alternatives, both in terms of ease and time, although Martha Stewart's garlicky, lemony version looks scrumptious and also easy to make.

A friend from Delaware, with whom I used to work and who also likes to cook, gave me this recipe that she clipped several years ago from a magazine advertisement peddling cooking wine and RealLemon juice.  Whenever I make this dish, I also conjure up a wonderful memory...she and I would routinely share and try each other’s gems, including one for Blue Goose Cake which is a wonderful coffee-chocolate confection with a buttercream icing.  I don’t know who is originally responsible for this amazing cake recipe but I suspect it's from one of the many cafe, coffee houses or restaurants with the same moniker!  I'll make it and post the recipe this summer.  

I miss working with her every day.

Anyway, scampi are actually small lobster-like crustaceans, fished in the Mediterranean, that Italians traditionally prepare by sautéing in butter, wine, lemon, olive oil and garlic, garnished with parsley.  Lidia Bastianich tells us that when Americans began to make the dish, they substituted more readily-available shrimp but kept the scampi name (so I guess the recipe name is a bit redundant!).  

Most scampi recipes include the usual ingredients noted, but this recipe adds tomatoes.  I, of course, substitute a nice crisp white wine (typically a Sauvignon Blanc) for the cooking wine and freshly squeezed lemon juice for the RealLemon called for in the original recipe.  I use a can of San Marzano tomatoes instead of fresh plum tomatoes but I sometimes supplement with some fresh plums, particularly if they are in season and full of flavor.  You can’t beat the sweetness of San Marzano tomatoes and, since they come in a can already chopped, they are too convenient not to use. 

As this NYTimes article supports, scampi preparation is open to interpretation and I like this interpretation…very much! 

Dinner mates seemed to like it as well.

Faith restored.

Tomato Shrimp Scampi
Adapted from a recipe in an old advertisement

8 ounces of fettuccine
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (this is better than minced because you get little garlic bits with each forkful!) 
1 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes, diced
3 fresh plum tomatoes, dices (but only if sweet and in season!)
1/2 cup crisp, dry white wine or vermouth
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
4 scallions, sliced
1 pound of shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinses and patted dry (I use frozen in a bag)
4 tablespoons of basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Parsley to garnish

Cook the fettuccine until al dente.  Sauté garlic in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for two minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook for a five minutes.  Add wine, lemon juice and sugar and simmer for few minutes more.  Add scallions, shrimp and red pepper flakes and cook until shrimp turn pink, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in basil and parmesan cheese and immediately toss with cooked fettuccine.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve!
This dish is delicious with a nice red wine and some crusty bread.  

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