Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pasta with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce


Nothing says "lazy weeknight dinner" more than a good old bowl of pasta. Recently, pasta has become my go-to dish when I am running short on time, or simply too tired to cook an elaborate dinner after coming back home from a long day at the office. Sometimes a girl's got to have some rest!


On typical days like this, my brain usually switches to auto-pilot mode, with the phrase "eat out / order in" flashing in red neon on top of the closed doors to the "today's home cooked recipe" section of my mind. 
Then happens the inevitable; husband asks what's for dinner. I mechanically repeat the line flashing in my head, and then it happens. He looks at me with his glistening eyes widened in painful shock, his lips slightly tremble and he says in a sad, disappointed voice "So you're not cooking for us tonight?" The sound of his heart breaking is so loud I could actually hear it. 


I can already tell that I have spoiled him culinary-wise. You see there is one thing Henri likes more than a good homemade meal, and it's a good homemade meal by me! It seems like sometimes, the only thing that gets him through a hard day at work, is knowing that when he will come back home at night, it will smell good, and he will have a nice healthy dinner made by his loving wife. How sweet I know!
And I, find it really difficult to say no to him on such matters, for he always gets me with his sad puppy eyes look. 
I bet you just gag-ed a little after this lovey-dovey sneak peek into our lives didn't you? But hey, we're married and in leuuve, what did you expect?


When we met and first moved in together, it didn't take me long to realize that the ONLY thing Henri cooked for himself was pasta! He had some variations with pasta à la olive oil, or pasta au beurre, and even pasta with basil pesto sauce if he was feeling fancy. I took pity on him and started cooking various, nutritious dishes for him thinking that poor guy must be feeling miserable eating the same thing all the time! But no! to my absolute astonishment, I immediately figured out I was wrong! 
He actually LOVED having his pasta this way and was perfectly happy with it! When I would ask him what he wanted for dinner the answer would be: PASTA! Lunch? PASTA! Tomorrow's dinner? Pasta Pasta Pasta!! 
Something tells me that going to an Italian restaurant on our first date was an even more of a calculated move from his side than I have originally suspected.


So one night, while dragging myself across the living room, I ask Henri what he wanted for dinner: Pasta! Of course
I glance outside and see the freezing wind almost ripping the trees off from their roots, there was no way I was going out grocery shopping in this crazy weather! 
I look around the kitchen scraping any ingredients that would work well in making a decent pasta dish (although Henri was insisting that plain olive oil and salt on his would be just fine! I didn't listen)and I ended up with a can of whole tomatoes, some leftover cream in the fridge, and a bunch of shrimp in the freezer. With the weather going nuts outside and a hungry husband to feed, I didn't have much choice really.


So let there be Dinner! And with the help of some of my best friends from the pantry, dinner was amazing! The sauce tasted rich and sweet, with a note of heat in the background that complements marvelously the delicate, sweet flesh of the shrimp. Since then Henri asks me specifically for the pasta with creamy tomato sauce, and for that request alone, I consider this recipe as being a huge success in my homemade dinner repertoire!


Pasta with Shrimp and Creamy Tomato Sauce:
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
  • 100g spaghettis
  • 400g / 1 pound medium size shrimp
  • 1 can whole tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Water (1/3 of the tomato can)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper  
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  
Have all your ingredients prepared and ready to go:
- Shrimp peeled and de-veined
- Onion peeled and finely chopped
- Garlic peeled and chopped

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil and fry the shrimp until cooked, lightly season with salt and pepper. Drain and set aside in a bowl.
In the same oil (now flavored with shrimp taste), add the onion and fry on low heat until soft and transparent. Add the garlic and continue frying until golden.
Add the tomatoes, and crush them with a wooden spoon until they're mostly puréed. Add the water, tomato paste, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar and the chili flakes. Stir to combine.
Cook uncovered over medium-low heat until the sauce has reduced by 1/3 (2/3 of the sauce should remain).
Transfer the sauce to a blender, or a food processor and mix until smooth and velvety.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions and drain.
Take the sauce back into the sauce pan, add the shrimp and the cream and re-heat on low heat. You don't want the sauce to boil. Turn off the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese then toss the pasta in the sauce.
Serve in individual bowls, or eat à la Lady and the Tramp and enjoy! 

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