What I'm Cooking: Savory Shrimp Spaghetti

About five years ago, I came across a recipe called "Midnight Pasta" in the New York Times. 

An easy-to-make meal flavored with garlic, capers and anchovies, it was economical and it could be on the table in about 15 minutes start to finish.

Although I have never whipped up a pasta recipe - or any meal for that matter - in the middle of the night, the idea behind this is that it's a simple dish that can be made quickly. 

More often than not, I make it after church on Sundays, with a side of roasted lemon broccoli. We accompanied it last night with toasted chunks of my Dad's famous whole wheat sourdough bread (yum!), dipped in this crazy-delicious Fig Balsamic Vinegar that our friends Beth and Brandon recently brought over.

Since we tend to like protein in our pasta sauce, I added shrimp to the original recipe, and reduced the amount of spaghetti by almost half.  I maintained the original amounts of anchovies, capers and red pepper, though.  We are not eating this at midnight, so spice is no object.

If you freak out at the sight of anchovies on the ingredient list, please stick with me.  Maybe you don't want to eat them straight out of the tin, but they add amazing complexity to the flavor of food - even in tiny amounts.  So skip them if you like, but the flavor of this dish will be kind of flat without them.

Make sure you have everything ready before you start making the sauce.  It cooks very quickly - as in a matter of seconds - so you'll want to keep a close eye on it.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 5 oz. dried spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (I use jarred garlic paste)
  • 1/2 of a 2 oz. tin of anchovies, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Black pepper

Method:

Cook spaghetti in a pot of rapidly-boiling salted water for eight to 10 minutes.

While spaghetti cooks, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute shrimp until heated through, about three to four minutes.  Remove and keep warm. 

Wipe down skillet, and add two tablespoons olive oil and warm over medium heat.  If you really love the flavor of anchovies, replace one tablespoon of the olive oil with the (very salty) oil from the tin of anchovies.  Add garlic and cook for about one minute, without letting it brown.  Stir in the anchovies, capers and red pepper and cook for 30 seconds.  Add shrimp to pan and heat through, about one minute.  Turn off heat.

Reserve 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water.  Drain pasta, and quickly add to mixture in skillet, tossing in some reserved pasta water for a creamier texture.  Toss in parsley.  Serve with grated Parmesan and black pepper if desired.

Makes two yummy servings.

Buon appetito!