Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shrimp Creole Pasta

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I posted; I had a bad bout of the flu that kicked my butt for a good while. It's hard to write when you are fuzzy in the head from cold meds!

I've made this shrimp Creole pasta many, many times, most recently Thursday night for dinner with my good friend Deirdre Steinfort, and I thought it was fitting with the weather hitting the Gulf! New Orleans is and always will be one of the most important food cities of the US, with a long history and tradition that far pre-dates Emeril Lagasse, no doubt one of its most famous residents.

Anyway, there's a bit of chopping involved but even that can be cut down if you can find pre-cut frozen onions and peppers in your supermarket. A couple of chicken tenderloins, diced and cooked with a sprinkle of Creole seasoning before the veggies, can add more heft to this dish if needed. PLEASE use good pasta -- Barilla isn't imported but it's the only American pasta I use (yes, it's actually made here, in Iowa); I love imported brands like DeCecco, Dellaverde and others. Because they are made with real durum wheat semolina, they are much easier to cook to a perfect al dente than mass-produced American brands such as Mueller's.

Serves four comfortably, especially with salad and bread.

8 ounces imported fettuccine (preferably the kind sold in a bag of nests)
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 medium sweet onion, cut in half and sliced thinly (1 cup frozen)
1 large red bell pepper, cut in half and sliced thinly (1 cup frozen)
1/2 large green bell pepper, sliced thinly (1/2 cup frozen)
1 head garlic, smashed and chopped coarsely (about 4 tablespoons jarred)
2 cups dry white wine
1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube (I prefer Knorr)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons real butter
2 tablespoons Tony Chachere's or Zatarain's Creole Seasoning

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large deep skillet or wok. Add onions and peppers; cook five minutes or until they begin to soften. Add garlic and cook two minutes. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning. Stir well. Add wine and let cook down for five minutes.

Add tomatoes and their juices and bouillon cube. Let simmer over medium heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Add shrimp and cook five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cold butter. Taste for seasoning, and if you want it, add more Creole seasoning.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in at least 6 quarts boiling salted water until al dente. Follow package directions for time. Drain.

Add sauce to pasta, mix well to combine. Serve immediately.

If adding chicken, use an additional two tablespoons olive oil. Heat that olive oil, add diced chicken breast meat and cook until browned on all sides. Sprinkle with a little Creole seasoning while cooking. Remove chicken, and proceed from top of recipe. Add chicken back in to sauce with tomatoes to finish cooking.

If feeling adventurous or wanting a real indulgence, substitute the shrimp with cooked and peeled crawfish, lobster meat or langostinos!

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