A Fond Farewell to Summer: Spicy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes Recipe
The other night as we ate our dinner draped in sweaters on our little deck, one of the boys declared that we were really pushing this eating outside thing a little too far. I couldn’t help but smile and knew exactly how he felt. As much as I adore summer, it does have to end. And after what surely has been one of the most beautiful Septembers ever around here I am finally feeling ready to make the move myself. Not that I have any choice in the matter – but it was really fantastic that our last few weeks of summer still felt like summer.
I appreciate the chill in the air that makes sitting down to a steaming plate of pasta a regular necessity again. And now that we’re getting reacquainted with our dining room and our stove is getting a little more love, my cooking daydreams are changing to those temporarily forgotten favorites. Soon enough it will be time for roasted vegetables, slowly braised, hearty meat dishes and steamy pots of thick bean-infused soup….but not yet. I still have a good deal of summer’s bounty to enjoy, especially since I am not someone who cooks, cans, freezes and does whatever else they can to preserve the precious flavors of the season. For the most part I cook in the moment. And while I did manage to get a few jars of roasted tomatoes, some blackberries and a couple pounds of my favorite pie cherries tucked away in our freezer, that will likely be the end of my summer “preserving.”
So as our few tomato plants wind their production down I take full advantage of using as many of those succulent fruits as I can in our meals. Their incredible sweetness is the perfect foil to some of those really spicy peppers we’ve been getting. A sweet-hot combination that was delicious along with our basil plant’s last few withered leaves, a small mountain of garlic and tender North Carolina shrimp. It was the steamy plate of pasta we were all craving with just enough sunny, summery flavor for us to gently kiss the season goodbye.
This recipe goes together quickly and is a snap when you have peeled and deveined prawns or large shrimp on hand.
- 2 Tbsp dry bread crumbs
- 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound fresh tagliolini or 3/4 pound dry, thin-cut pasta like spaghetti or linguine
- 3/4 pound shelled North Carolina shrimp
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp finely minced hot chili pepper or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1/2 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes such as Sungold, halved
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a small skillet, cook the bread crumbs in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the bread crumbs onto a plate.
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until not quite al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the shrimp to the pan, spreading them evenly in 1 layer. Cook for 1 minute then turn them to the other side and cook 1 more minute.
- Add the garlic and hot pepper to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Deglaze pan with the wine and add the cherry tomatoes. Add pasta, reserved cooking water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and basil to the shrimp.
- Cook over moderately high heat, tossing the pasta and lightly crushing the tomatoes, until the sauce is slightly thickened and the shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, transfer pasta to bowls, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and serve.