On Sunday, I spent the morning running errands: dropping clothes and shoes off at Housing Works, stopping at the drug store to replenish my gum supply, hitting Kate's Paperie for some birthday cards, and stopping by Citarella for some shrimp.
I'm not sure where the idea to make shrimp scampi for dinner came from - maybe from a desire to eat something delightfully garlicky and slightly boozy? Who knows - but one thing I do know is that scampi, like so many pasta dishes, is a great dinner to make for one. It's fast, it's ludicrously delicious, and it's one of those things that's annoying to make for a dinner party, since you need to make it there and then - plus, who the hell wants to peel and devein shrimp for eight? Not I.
For my version, I use vermouth in the place of white wine, for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm unlikely to have a bottle of wine open at any given time, since I can rarely make it through a bottle in any reasonable amount of time. Second, the herbs and spices in the vermouth add a bit more flavor than your standard white wine.
It may also seem, at first glance, that this recipe is a little heavy on the salt. I don't find it to be (you need it to season the shrimp and the pasta), but you should obviously use your own judgment. After all, you can always add salt later - but you can't take it out.
Next time you're on your own for dinner (or with a friend - this recipe easily doubles to feed two), try it out, and let me know what you think!
Queenie's Scampi for One
1/4 lb. dried spaghetti
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 lb. medium shrimp, peeled & de-veined
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 c. parsley, finely chopped
3 tbs. dry vermouth (or other white wine)
1 plum tomato, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1/2 tbs. unsalted butter, divided
In salted, boiling water, cook the spaghetti to al dente. Drain and set aside. (You can cook the sauce & shrimp while the pasta cooks; just wait to start the sauce till the pasta is about halfway done.)
Rinse the shrimp in cold water and pat dry.
In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until just shimmering. Add the garlic, lower heat to medium, and cook gently until the garlic has turned slightly golden and is fragrant.
Turn the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp the pan, distributing them evenly. Season with the black pepper and 1/2 tsp. of the salt and saute until the shrimp begin to turn pink all over. Add the red pepper flakes and 3/4 of the parsley and continue to cook for a minute or two.
Add the vermouth and continue to cook, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes and another 1/4 tsp. salt to the pan at this point. Cook the shrimp until they are completely pink, but not overdone. Add half the butter to the pan along with the cooked spaghetti. Cook the pasta & sauce together for a minute, add the remaining parsley, and transfer to a shallow bowl.
Dot the pasta with the remaining butter, sprinkle with the remaining salt - and eat!
Serves one (duh).