Friday, January 22, 2010

Summer in January's little luxuries. 40-degree days in January in Chicago (thank you, El Nino!). Coming home after a hellish work week and cooking a relaxed meal at home with a glass of wine. And shrimp pasta so tangy and bright that it almost doesn't feel like winter at all.

Eating this pasta is like escaping to a tropical beach from a blizzard (or ice storm, or icy rain, or ice...hail?!). No matter the weather, or whether it's a weekday or a lazy weekend night at home, this dish is so easy and foolproof that it's always a perfect time to make it.

I picked up the Italian sweet peppers (they come in bell pepper colors but are the same size and shape, roughly, as jalapenos) at Trader Joe's, and every time I use them I wonder why I don't use them more often. They're sweeter and crisper than bell peppers, but not spicy, so they're perfect for any palate - even spice-sensitive ones. They really jazz up the flavor of a sauce. And speaking of sauce, this simple scampi-inspired one is low on ingredients but high on flavor. If you're not a huge fan of lemon, I might start with half a lemon, but the overall effect is tangy, crisp, and delightfully sunny.



2 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 very large or 2-3 small shallots, chopped
1/2 lb. grape tomatoes
10-12 small sweet Italian peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
~1/2 c. white wine
fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
1 lb. raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
2-3 more T. butter
whole grain spaghetti (1/2-2/3 of a package)


Heat 2 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter in a large skillet with semi-high sides. Cook shallots, tomatoes, and peppers, seasoning with salt and pepper, until beginning to soften. Add in garlic and cook for another minute.


Add lemon juice, wine, parsley, red pepper flakes, and a little more salt and pepper to pan. Stir and cover. Cook over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until al dente.


Add shrimp and the other 2-3 T. of butter to pan. Cover and cook until shrimp are pink, stirring when neccessary and seasoning as needed. Serve over noodles. Enjoy!

These past few weeks, cooking at home has truly been a luxury - I've barely set foot in my apartment the entire month of January! It's nice to remember what makes me love it so much. I hope you're all off to a fantastic start to the new year, and finding - no, making - time to do what you love.

More soon!

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