Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cooking with Melissa: Yummy Shrimp Linguine with Roasted Broccoli

Since moving back to the US, I have had a dire lack of really good and fresh seafood, which strikes me as highly ironic. Florida is so very much in contact with huge bodies of water, it just seemed natural to me that fresh seafood would not be hard at all to come by. Unfortunately, at least in this area of Florida, I haven't found a great source for fresh fish yet. I am still on the hunt, and I am certain I will track down something, I am even keeping cooler bags in my trunk just in case I spy something while out exploring. Shrimp, at least, is one of the few fish items I have always found acceptable after freezing, so Melissa's Lemony Shrimp Scampi and Linguine jumped out at me and cried make me, make me!

Shrimp was even on sale, for $4.99/pound, and her recipe only required 3/4 lb, so I was already off to a good start. As luck would have it, broccoli, lemons, and linguine were also all on sale, so this meal was definitely not only fitting the theme of her "10 dollar promise" on the show, but my budget was pretty happy about it too ;) All of the remaining ingredients were kitchen staples, so I was in and out of the store very quickly.

I started heating the water for my pasta while I prepped my ingredients. I can tell you right now that "easy peel" on a package of frozen shrimp is a slight misnomer. The shells have a slit cut into them, so that you can peel it apart and remove it faster than if you had to make the slits yourself. This only ended up saving a minimal amount of my time, as every single shrimp still had a nasty black sandy vein. This has to be one of the most tedious and miserable tasks in cleaning shrimp. It took ages. AGES. And I still had to butterfly each shrimp afterwards! Grr. Needless to say, my pasta was completely cooked and waiting for me by the time I even started the shrimp stock.

While the shrimp stock was bubbling away, I decided to get my broccoli in the oven. It was very simple - drizzle each stalk with olive oil, add some seasoning, then roast for 15 minutes, flip over, sprinkle on a touch of Parmesan and roast a little longer. (Melissa's recipe said another 5 minutes, next time I am going with 10). I have to say that this part of the meal was its shining star. What a wonderful, delicious, easy to make side dish. The broccoli stalks looked gorgeous and roasting them made them taste like a snack, something you want to pick up with your fingers and nibble on the sly. I think I have a new favorite way to serve broccoli. The recipe can be found here.

The shrimp and sauce took almost no time at all to cook. Once the stock was finished, it was just a matter of sauteeing the shrimp briefly, removing them from pan, adding the sauce ingredients and letting the sauce reduce down. I refreshed my slightly dried out linguine with some boiling water and added it to the sauce, which it happily drank up. The shrimp, sauce, and pasta all get tossed together and then it is finally ready.

It turned out delicious, although I think the shrimp would have been better served if they had been cooked at the very last minute in a separate pan, as they were perfect when I first removed them, but got cold and almost overcooked while sitting in their own steam waiting on the sauce reduction. This is a good recipe with great flavor, but I think I will still go back to my usual and much simpler go-to scampi recipe, which is every bit as good and does not require quite as many messy and time-consuming steps.