What is: easy enough to make from ingredients you (could) have on hand, quick enough for a weeknight meal, but glorious enough for company?
Pasta with Shrimp and Olive Sauce, from Todd English's new book, Cooking in Everyday English, The ABCs of Great Flavor at Home.
I challenge you to try some of the recipes from this beautifully illustrated book, and not pronounce them delicious. Todd English has numerous restaurants in Boston, New York, Vegas and studied not only at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, but served an apprenticeship in Italy, and it shows.
He knows how to amp up everyday favorites with a twist, all within reach of a home cook.
Forthwith, the recipe, whipped up by my daughter this past Sunday:
Pasta with Shrimp and Olive Sauce, adapted from Cooking in Everyday English
12 - 16 oz. fettuccine or spaghetti
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (be generous)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (frozen, from Costco is good)
28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped (preferably Muir Glen brand)
2/3 cup loosely packed basil leaves, loosely packed and torn (would be lovely fresh, but if not, try 2 teaspoons dried plus 1/4 cup fresh parsley if you have it)
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (essential)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
two 3.5 oz. containers black olive tapenade (we used Cat Cora's brand, available at Shop Rite)
Boil the pasta in a large amount of well salted water just until al dente. Save 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and put back in the warm pot.
While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic in the olive oil over medium low heat in a large saute pan until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the dried pepper, and cook another 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium high, add half the shrimp, and saute until just pink. Remove the shrimp and add to the pasta. Saute the remaining shrimp until pink, add all the remaining ingredients, and then toss it all with the pasta. Add a bit of pasta cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce.
My favorite pasta and shrimp dish for 20 years used to be Pierre Franey's with tomatoes, basil and feta: sorry Pierre, this is my new favorite.
This cookbook is on order for our Library, but until we receive it in, you can get it by putting a hold on it from other libraries in our Consortium. Either go online to sbpl.info or call us at the Information Desk 732-329-4000 ext. 7286 and we can get it for you.
And if you don't feel like cooking, you can try Todd English's ridiculously delicious food at the beautiful and gracious restaurant "ca va" at the Intercontinental Hotel in Times Square or at the Plaza Hotel's bustling Food Hall.
Todd English Fan