Right now I'm surrounded with memories of stomach flips, sweaty palms, and mass confusion, similar to the first day at culinary school or giving birth (both times) or opening day at that first restaurant. My nervous hands are comforted by the backspace button and my excited mind is churning with thoughts.
So, grab a glass of tea (or something else, depending on your time zone) and let's start opening day with a short story about my daily food dilemma: dinner.
Being a chef, people automatically assume that we've got dinner in the bag, and I don't mean take-out. Well...OK, sometimes I do. Having all this culinary knowledge can mean your demise at home, especially with kids. I mean, they just aren't going to eat things with truffle foam or rutabaga puree or anchovies. Of course, that would insinuate that I actually cook that for them...I think not!
I too, stand at the pantry waiting for inspiration to jump off the shelves. That refrigerator isn't any help either, unless I was looking to decrease my frontal skin temperature by 5 degrees. Don't get me wrong, it's a blessing to be a chef, but even this chef-mom needs quick, easy, and delicious recipes for at-home dinners. Let's start tonight with ingredients you probably have in your pantry for a meal that's fit for a family or a dinner party. I know, I know, shrimp isn't really a pantry item, but I happened to have some in the freezer from a gulf coast trip and thought I'd throw it in. If you don't have shrimp, go vegetarian with this and just add the smoked paprika to the sauce. Enjoy!
Creamy Tomato Pasta with Smoky Shrimp
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup skimmed evaporated milk
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. oregano, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried, crushed)
1 Tbsp. basil, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried, crushed)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound pasta, cooked and drained (any size)
For the shrimp:
20 large shrimp, peeled, deviened, tail-off
2 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Preheat the oven to broil on high. Meanwhile, heat the 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a small sauce pot. Add the garlic and cook on medium until fragrant but not turning color. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the evaporated milk and Parmesan cheese. Make sure to dry the shrimp with paper towels, then toss the shrimp with the 2 tsp. olive oil, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Place the shrimp on a metal cooling rack that's been placed on top of a foil lined sheet. Broil the shrimp on each side for 2 minutes. Toss the sauce with the pasta and shrimp. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese and more fresh basil, if desired. This is also good with garlic-sauteed broccoli florets or roasted, sliced zucchini.