Shrimp and Tomato Pasta

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 23, 2011 at 3:13 PM

 

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Louisiana Choice Seasonings
1 Tbsp. minced garlic, heaping
1 cup diced Portabella mushrooms
4 to 6 fresh diced tomatoes, medium large
2 packages fresh basil leaves, 3/4 ounces each
1/2 cup cocktail or dry sherry wine
3 lbs. peeled and deveined shrimp, 31-35 count
2 packages frozen green peas, l lb. each
2 bags fresh spinach, 6 oz. each
8 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, diced and softened
2 tsp. Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning
1/3 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. salt and pepper mix
2 Tbsp. cornstarch, as needed
24 oz. mostaccioli pasta, cooked al dente
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions for topping
1/4 cup minced parsley for garnish
12 sticks sourdough bread
Margarine/garlic/olive oil mix for brushing t
he bread sticks

 

 

First, in a heavy 6-quart porcelain or Club aluminum Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame until it sizzles. Then fry down the chopped seasonings, the minced garlic, and the mushrooms and continue cooking them over medium-high heat until they each soften thoroughly (they need not brown, just wilt and soften).
Next, drop into the pot the tomatoes, the fresh basil, and the cocktail sherry. Take a little extra time here to stir, stir, and stir again—this is the gravy-in-waiting! The heat will release the natural juices from the tomatoes, absorb the flavorings from the seasonings, and then reduce the overall volume to a semi-thick consistency. Figure it will take about 10 minutes or so to reach this point, and during that time you should cook the sauce over nothing higher than a medium fire.

Now at this point, you can go ahead and add the shrimp, the green peas, and the spinach. Again with the fire on a medium setting, simply fold these three ingredients into the dish. Once more, take your time and finesse the pot—don’t be in a hurry, blend everything in combination until perfectly uniform. Then once you got the uniformity right, the rest is easy.

Stir in the cream cheese in small pieces and melt it into the sauce. Then sprinkle in the Sicilian seasoning, the red pepper flakes, and the salt and pepper—stir everything completely again. Then reduce the fire to low, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and simmer the pot for about 5 minutes to allow all the ingredients to mellow into one taste. And if the consistency is a tad thin, whisk in scant amounts of cornstarch as needed.

When you’re ready to eat, ladle into the pot as much pasta as you want to serve with the shrimp, toss everything together completely, crown each serving you spoon out with cheese, and garnish with the green onions and parsley.

Hint: I recommend that you brush the breadsticks with the margarine, garlic, and olive oil mix and bake them until they are golden brown and crusty. I also recommend that you serve this meal by putting the entire pot on the table and dishing out generous piping hot portions into warm pasta bowls. Of course, a little tossed green salad on the side wouldn’t hurt, and neither would a glass of chilled white wine.


 

Chef's Hints

Louisiana Choice seasonings is a combination of onions, celery, bell peppers, carrots, parsley, green onion, and garlic already pre-chopped for your convenience and packaged in two-cup tub containers. It can usually be found in the produce section of your supermarket.
If you can’t find Portabella mushrooms at your grocery store, you can suitably substitute white button mushrooms in their place. Just slice them thinly.

Fresh basil is also usually found in small plastic trays in the produce section of the supermarket. Dried sweet basil can be used sparingly if “push comes to shove,” but the results won’t be the same.

You may also substitute frozen spinach for the fresh spinach if you absolutely have to, but again the final dish will be considerably lacking in flavor intensity. Be sure to buy pre-washed spinach when you get it fresh—to do otherwise could add a significant helping of “dirt” to you dish. By the way, if you opt for the frozen product, be sure you thaw the spinach completely and squeeze out all of the moisture before adding it to the dish. If you don’t the pasta sauce will become extremely watery!

 

Be sure you peel and de-seed the tomatoes before cooking them down in the pan. The texture will be smooth and creamy if you do and coarse and quite seedy if you don’t!

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