Before I get into the nostalgia that today’s recipe inspired, let’s get down to the thing itself. This is an easy weeknight pasta dish with a fresh, unique, and decadent taste. It is listed in my collected recipes book as Sandra’s Excellent Shrimp Pasta, but in the spirit of this blog, we could just call it Friendship Pasta.
- I pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup red wine
- 3+ oz crumbled feta cheese + more for garnish
- 1 small onion, sliced thin
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- Either one cup cherry tomatoes cut in half OR 3-4 Campari-style small tomatoes, chopped.
- 2+ Tablespoon butter
- 8 ounces (half a box) of angel hair pasta
- Small handful cilantro, chopped + more for garnish
- fresh ground pepper
Fill a pot large enough to contain all of your pasta with water and salt generously. Bring to a boil and add pasta.
While the pasta is doing its thing, melt the butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the shrimp to the pan when the butter starts to foam. Cook in batches if you need to, but do not overcrowd the pan. Leave shrimp to sear on one side for 1-2 minutes, then turn and cook 1-2 minutes more. Remove from pan. (They will continue cooking in their own heat and the heat from the pasta later.)
While shrimp are cooking, slice and prepare the onion and garlic. Once the shrimp are removed, add the onion to the hot pan right in there with the shrimp frond. Add a little extra butter if needed. Cook onions 1-2 minutes until they are soft and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook together for 1-2 minutes more. Add wine, scraping the pan to deglaze all of the delicious browned bits and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, the pasta should be nearing done-ish, so drain it and then return it to the pot. Add the cooked shrimp, tomato, cilantro, and feta. Stir until the feta is creamy and the cilantro and tomatoes are a little wilted. Add the onion, garlic, and wine mixture, and stir it all together. Serve in deep bowls. Sprinkle extra feta and cilantro on the top for a prettier touch and add a grind or two of fresh pepper.
As the school year looms closer and closer, I am trying to return to the practice of meal planning, as opposed to buying whatever looks good and is available at the market. I’ve been kind of grimacing and kicking against that resolve though because… I don’t like things that are predictable or boring. I’ve decided that if I am going to cook from a pre-planned meal set, then the recipes are going to come from the far corners of my favorite cookbooks rather than my immediate repertoire of easy weeknight dinners. This may be impractical, but it seems like a good compromise between getting carryout because it’s too much of a mental challenge to turn the good food in the house into a meal and getting carryout because the dinner I have planned sounds boring as hell.
This week, I went to one of my favorite cookbooks that rarely sees the light of day anymore: the collected recipes cookbook that I kept in my 20s and early 30s. Sandra’s Excellent Shrimp Pasta is the second recipe listed in that book.
(Sandra was my roommate for a while when we were in our 20s. Sandra was also Donna’s roommate for a while when we were in our 20s. Donna and I were also roommates in our 20s, but not at the same time that either of us were roommates with Sandra. Up to speed? Good.)
Barbie’s Easy-as-Pie Cookbook is written as warm conversations between sisters and friends who are at the beginning stages of learning about adult life. My collected recipes cookbook, for me, is a reminder of a time when I was in that position. It takes me right back to the days of living with girls and moving every other year and having any nice dinner made at home be a cause for celebration.
It also reminds me of a time when my friends were the main source of my kitchen inspiration. In addition to Sandra’s pasta, my cookbook contains Caroline’s Shrimp Dip, Charity’s Black Beans and Rice (Or ‘someone who grew up using Ro-Tel enlightens someone who did not’), and Thomas B’s “Shrimp Scampi.”
(I literally JUST noticed that there are a ton of shrimp based dishes in here. Is there something about shrimp that speaks to young adults? Is shrimp, like, the best Nice Food that young people can’t fuck up too badly?)
- When we were younger, we added the shrimp to the cooked onions and wine and cooked it in the sauce, but that turned the shrimp purple and strange. Changing the order like I did in the recipe makes a much more visually appealing dish.
- The recipe as written in my cookbook includes Mrs. Dash (along with the note “or similar”) in the ingredients list. It is not mentioned in the directions themselves and I have no memory of ever using it.
- Thomas’ Shrimp Scampi recipe is written on a post-it and goes as follows: “Start With Shrimp and Garlic and Butter. Add a Lot of Butter. Add SEVERAL Cloves of Garlic. COOK. Add MORE Butter as Needed.” As I recall, this was his ‘impress the ladies’ go-to.
I did not intend to write a post about Sandra’s pasta when I decided to include it in this week’s dinner planning, but as soon as I pulled out my collected recipes cookbook, I knew it belonged. Try it! It’s good!