Shrimp Scampi Florentine Pasta

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The classic Florentine preparation places the main ingredient on a bed of buttery spinach, topped with sauce and cheese and browned under the broiler. We’ve replicated the basic idea, giving you all those rich and cheesy flavors, but with less effort than a full-on Florentine. We’ve even improved it, with a bit of heat from the red pepper flakes. Tip: An easier way to mince parsley? Gather them all in one hand and lay on the cutting board. Use your knife in rocking motion to cut, then turn 90 degrees and repeat until the herbs are properly minced!

SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS:

5  ounces spaghetti pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound 16-20 count shrimp, peeled and deviened
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 ounces  baby spinach, roughly chopped
¼  bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
2 teaspoons mirepoix base or vegetable
¼ cup light cream
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Bring 3 1/2 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a medium pot. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. While pasta boils, cook shrimp.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, until oil is shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add shrimp to the skillet n and cook undisturbed until seared on one side, 1-2 minutes. Flip shrimp, and add shallot and garlic. Cook until aromatic, 30-60 seconds.

Lower heat to medium. Add the parsley and spinach to the skillet and stir occasionally until spinach is wilted. Add the shrimp and stir to cook until the shrimp is opaque and pink when it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145ºF, 2-3 minutes. Stir in cream, Parmesan, half the pasta cooking water, mirepoix base, and pasta. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Once simmering, cook until sauce is slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. If too dry, add additional pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Remove the skillet from the heat and season with salt and  crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

To serve divide, the shrimp Florentine between two plates and garnish the pasta with parsley.

 Bon appétit!

Cook’s Notes:

Many chefs consider mirepoix to be the key ingredient for adding that extra umph to a dish. It’s the secret sauce; the essential ingredient; the reason your food tastes so good. Mirepoix plays an important role in flavoring soups, stews, casseroles, braised meats, and marinades.358 (1)

You can find mirepoix soup bases in the soup aisle of your local supermarket. If that is not the case you buy it online at speciality gourmet shops. Click here for the link.

To learn how to make your own mirepoix base, just click here for the link to a great teaching video.

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Cacio e Pepe

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Utterly simple yet supremely satisfying, Cacio e Pepe is  the quintessential pasta dish from Roman cuisine. “Cacio e Pepe” means “cheese and pepper”.  Because the recipe is so elemental, it depends on using only three highest-quality ingredients possible. As the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple and include only black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta such as a long, thin spaghetti like tonnarelli or vermicelli.  A true cacio e pepe recipe does not needs any oil, cream or butter.

The cacio e pepe recipe is one of the most ancient Italian dishes. The legend of this recipe dates back to the days of  the Roman Empire. For centuries, cacio e pepe has been the perfect meal of the Roman shepherds. Dried pasta, aged pecorino and black peppers are easy-to-carry ingredient and hard to spoil.

One of the things I learned  from experienced cooks is that the most difficult recipes are the simply ones – the ones with less  ingredients.

If you were to watch a practiced hand make cacio e pepe, you might think the instructions were as simple as this: Cook spaghetti and drain. Toss with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. Serve. But we all know that the simplest recipes can often be the most confounding, and so it is with cacio e pepe. The most important steps to be taken in preparing this dish is to leave some of the hot cooking water with the pasta and speed: If the water cools before melting the cheese, the sauce will clump.The heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help bind the pepper and cheese to the pasta, creating a creamy, emulsified sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti with flavor.

Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients:
Sea salt
1 pound spaghetti or tonnarelli
2 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano

4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt the water. When the salt has dissolved, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the Pecorino Romano, the pepper, and a small ladle of pasta cooking water. Using the back of a large wooden spoon, mix vigorously and quickly to form a paste.

When the pasta is cooked, use a large strainer to remove it from the cooking water and quickly add it to the sauce in the bowl, keeping the cooking water boiling on the stove. Toss vigorously, adjusting with additional hot water a tablespoon or two at a time as necessary to melt the cheese and to obtain a creamy sauce that completely coats the pasta.

Plate and sprinkle each portion with some of the remaining Pecorino Romano and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes:
And if you really want the full Roman traditional experience of eating cacio e pepe, make a crispy Parmesan bowl. Simply spread 3/4 cup Parmesan in a thin layer on the bottom of a non-stick saucepan and cook for three minutes, or until it becomes pliable. Remove the cheese sheet from the pan with a spatula and use a ramekin or small bowl to mold it.Arrange the cacio e pepe in its cheese cradle and top with more cheese.

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Squid Ink Spaghetti with Shrimp

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Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 package Squid Ink Spaghetti
1 pound 16-20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
One 6-ounce jar of clams with juice
4 cloves garlic, sliced
½ cup white wine
½ cup half and half
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
Juice of ½ large lemon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente while you prepare the sauce.

In a pan large enough to accommodate the pasta, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat and add the crushed red pepper. Follow with the garlic and cook for a minute making sure not to brown it.

Add the clams and juice (or fish stock if using) and turn the heat up to high. Follow with the wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the wine has reduced a bit.

Add the lemon juice then the half and half. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp, cover the pan and cook for a minute or two just until the shrimp turn pink. Season with salt, to taste.

Add the pasta and toss until combined with the sauce. It make seem like you have a lot of sauce but the pasta will quickly absorb it.

Arrange the pasta on a plate and drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with parsley and serve.

Cook’s Notes:
You can substitute about ½ cup stock in place of the clams.

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All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor