Pasta “Scampi” with Ripe Tomatoes and Shrimp
1/2 pound imported Italian pasta
1/2 pound Shrimp, peeled, deveined.
2 cups ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, additional for drizzle off the heat at the end.
4 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
red chili flakes (optional)
4 ounces dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
Heat a large pot with plenty of water to a rolling boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, in a large saute’ pan, heat oil with the chopped garlic, mix around, don’t let the garlic brown, after about 1.5 minutes, add the tomatoes, sprinkle of sea salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and continue to toss on medium/high heat for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes burst (you can assist them with your cooking utensil as they soften). Add the basil and shrimp and let simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp and set them aside. The reason to cook the shrimp now and remove them is you want to get the flavor from the shrimp into the sauce, as well as the flavors from the sauce absorbed into the shrimp, but you don’t want to overcook the shrimp. Shrimp cook and dry out very quickly, this is why it is important to remove them now.
At this point, drop the pasta in the boiling salted water. Cook until shy of al dente, reserve a cup of the cooking water. Add the white wine and turn up the heat to let the sauce come together. Then add the swirl of butter. When the pasta is shy of al dente (harder than you would eat), drain and add to the sauce, toss for several minutes with a splash or two of pasta cooking water as needed to help form a luscious sauce that is abundant, yet not at all runny and does not overpower or drown out the pasta. It should be dressed like a salad. About 1 minute prior to serving, add the shrimp back in and continue to toss.
Notes: this is nice with added fresh basil or freshly chopped parsley. A drizzle of a good quality olive oil off the heat when serving adds another layer of complexity. Another nice variation is to add a slice of orange rind to the sauce while cooking to give it a slightly sweet and citrusy flavor reminiscent of Florida. Italian seafood pastas typically don’t call for cheese, if you have your heart set on something, go for a few scant shavings of ricotta salata so as not to overpower the dish.