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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Date Night - Whole Grain Pasta with Shrimp

I have a small confession to make. On Monday nights, Baby and I cross the hall and watch The Bachelor with our neighbors. The Mrs. is completed obsessed with the show and insists on total silence during it but her Mr. couldn't care less, even though he still watches. Baby and I however just like getting together with our friends to witness the witless parade of mewling girls fawning over the ideal, hopeful husband-to-be. There is a certain escapist sense about it, tuning in for the two whole hours every week, anticipating who will receive a rose--and who will be most grievously jilted.

Sometimes the lot of us will order in sushi together or just eat on our own before sitting down to watch. This week I offered to cook, as we had a pound of Colossal Shrimp from Trader Joe's tucked away in the freezer next to some bacon. With some sturdy whole grain spaghetti, a touch of white wine from a recently opened bottle, a few other ingredients and a little ingenuity, I made a great meal that easily satisfied four and certainly deserved a rose!

P.S. Speaking of romance and since love is in the air, this recipe could be easily reduced for just two--an ideal meal to create an intimate Valentine's Day dinner--served with a celebratory bottle of wine, perhaps. It's very quick to make, which leaves time for...other investments.

Whole Grain Pasta with Shrimp
1/4 lb bacon, cut into roughly 3" strips (I used Oscar Mayer Hardwood Smoked--delicious!)
6 or so cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
A big splash of white wine 
1 lb deveined, tailed thawed shrimp, the bigger the better
1 lb whole grain pasta
2 TB anchovy paste 
2-3 TB butter
2-3TB olive oil, the best you can find
1 TB Lemon rock salt, or Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot with water and get it simmering, ready to boil quickly. On medium high heat, start cooking the bacon in a frying pan, and grind your pepper over it with abandon, flipping occasionally until nicely browned and peppery on both sides. Remove with tongs and place on a plate lined with two paper towels. Drain about half of the fat and toss in the garlic. The pan will be hot, so douse the almost immediately with a judicious splash of wine (about 1/2 cup) and remove from heat. Stir in a TB of the anchovy paste to your froth and gently simmer on low heat for a few minutes and secure the sauce in a vessel that can stand up to heat. Bring your water to a full boil, add salt and pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes. Strain when done to your liking. As the boiling process transpires, use your frying pan again for the shrimp. Melt butter, add olive oil and the other TB of anchovy paste before adding the shrimp. The shrimp cooks quickly, about 3 minutes per side. While the shrimp turns a blithely orange-pink on both sides and has become just opaque (do not overcook!), strain your pasta, which should be done by now and place into a large bowl. Toss with the garlicky-anchovy-wine froth. Incorporate your cooked shrimp evenly along with the bubbly sauce in which it has been sauteed, crumble the bacon into the mix with lots of Parmesan cheese and more cracked pepper, if you like.

Behold the bubbling bacon below--which could hardly hold still to take a decent picture!

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