My family celebrated my daughter's birthday last week with a favorite pasta dish.
It's an informal, tweak it while you go and add the amounts that you like, kind-of recipe that I made up one night and have never written down.
Served with a fresh salad and bread, it makes a great meal when you want something special but have been running your tush off all day and don't have hours to spend in the kitchen.
Pasta and Shrimp
in Tomato Cream Sauce
Prepare all ingredients before you start cooking:
One pound of either rigatoni, ziti, or penne pasta. (Bring your water to a boil while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.)
Clean and drain a pound of large shrimp. (I use Costco large precooked tail-on frozen shrimp and spend about 15 minutes defrosting it under cool running water, removing the tails, and then squeezing it dry in a clean tea towel. You can also use fresh or frozen uncooked shrimp.)
Fresh minced garlic (2-5 large cloves, depending on your taste.)
Two cans of Italian Recipe Ready Cut Tomatoes, drained a bit (or the same amount of fresh tomatoes, oregano, and basil, depending on what you have on hand. Sometimes I use both.)
1 small container of heavy cream (remember, special occasion recipe.)
1 cup of grated fresh Parmesan cheese.
There, the hard part's over!
Now, begin cooking your noodles in the pot of water that should be boiling by now. Follow the package directions.
Heat a very large fry pan with deep sides to medium temperature and add a couple tablespoons of butter. When the sizzling has stopped, add your garlic and stir it around for about a minute (don't let it burn!)
Add your shrimp to the garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes more until just heated through. If the shrimp was raw, cook it until it's barely opaque. (Don't overcook!)
Add the drained canned Italian tomatoes and/or fresh tomatoes and basil. Raise the heat to medium high, if necessary, bringing everything to a boil and cook another 1-2 minutes until heated through.
Add a splash of heavy cream. (I've learned to do this by color, but it's around 1/4 cup of cream.) Cook for another minute or two until heated through again.
Lower the heat to low and add another tablespoon of butter to make your sauce rich and glossy.
Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the pot. Add the shrimp tomato cream sauce and 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese to the drained pasta in the pot and stir well. Return the pot to the stove and let it sit on low for five to ten minutes, stirring once or twice. The pasta will absorb some of the sauce and it will thicken a little. If it's too thick, add a couple tablespoons of cream or pasta water.
Pour all into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with more cheese (and fresh basil, if you have it.) Put the rest of the Parmesan cheese on the table and let everyone serve themselves. As the pasta sits, it absorbs more sauce and keeps getting better and better.
I prepared all my ingredients in the morning, and refrigerated them. That evening it took me fifteen minutes to make the entire dinner and get it to the table. I served my pasta with a salad kit (arugula pear with Gorgonzola dressing) and sliced sourdough Italian bread. It doesn't get much easier than that.
For dessert, birthday cake of course, with a banner made by tweaking this tutorial from I (heart) Nap Time.
I hope you try this Pasta and Shrimp in Tomato Cream Sauce. Play with the ingredients and amounts, and make it your own. It's so easy, but delicious and special enough for company and special occasions.