Fall started this week with cool nights, crisp mornings and me rummaging around in my sock drawer. (I might have worn pink socks with embroidered cats to work). Par for the course of sunset at 4pm, I started craving carbs, quilts and curling up in bed. What can I say? I’m secretly a bear who wants to hibernate until April.
But until Rip Van Winkle becomes reality, I’ll just cook. Shrimp Scampi is a classic comfort food with its oodles of butter, sautéed garlic, tangy lemon notes and salty noodles — all topped with a soft pile of Parmesan cheese. Thanks to the powers of Google, a search for “the best shrimp scampi recipe” led me to Barefood Contessa’s version. Google lied. It was fine, but kinda dry. Here’s what I recommend to make your scampi better:
- At least 1/2 cup good olive oil, divided
- 2 TBS kosher salt, divided
- 3/4 pound pasta
- 3 TBS butter – not margarine!
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined – tails on or off
- 1/4 tsp+ freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Juice of 3 lemons, freshly squeezed
- 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 TBS of salt and the linguine, and cook according to the directions on the package.
2. Meanwhile, in another large, heavy-bottomed pan, melt 2 TBS butter and 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute or until lightly golden. Add the shrimp, 1 tsp salt, and the pepper. Saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Careful not to overcook shrimp — they should be springy but not chewy.
3. Turn down the heat to low, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, white wine, and red pepper flakes. Stir briefly to combine. It will smell amazing. Remove from heat.
4. When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Add more olive oil to keep noodles from sticking together. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and taste. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon based on preferences. Ladle into low bowls and top with fresh Parmesan, additional red pepper flakes, a pinch of parsley and a lemon wedge.
Serve with remaining wine — or open another bottle since you obviously drank most of the first bottle while cooking. A bit for the dish, a bit for me… A bit for the dish, a bit for me…
TWO TIPS: You can’t have too many shrimp, but you CAN have too few. Don’t skimp on shrimp!
Also, use fresh butter. Not as in fresh from the cow — though that would be delightful — but fresh from the package. Nothing is worse than butter that’s been sitting open in the fridge for a month and tastes like stale celery and sour milk.