Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Linguine with Scallion Sauce and Sauteed Shrimp

I hate waste. But despite all my best efforts, when I buy a bunch of scallions, some of them too often end up going to waste. Part of the generous bunches I pick up for a penance at the farmers' market linger the fridge, their greens slowly wilting to a sad, wrinkly pile destined for the compost heap. It's not that I don't like scallions, but in most of the recipes I cook that use them, scallions are an accent rather rather than the main event. This simple recipe makes scallions the star, the whites pairing with garlic and red pepper to infuse the shrimp with lively flavor and the greens pureed to a fresh sauce that unites the delicate shrimp and hearty pasta. While created as a way to use up oft-neglected vegetables, this pasta is delicious enough warrant to their specific purchase, the scallion sauce also a wonderful companion for chicken and other summer vegetables like zucchini, corn, and tomatoes. For an extra rich note, add a sprinkling of Parmesan, feta, or goat cheese certainly wouldn't be unwelcome, a final special touch to a vibrantly summer meal.

Linguine with Scallion Sauce and Sauteed Shrimp
adapted from Gourmet
serves 4

3/4 pound scallions (about 3 large bunches)
8 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound medium shrimp (about 24)
12 pound dried whole wheat spaghetti or linguine
6 to 7 tablespoons olive oil

1. Cut enough of scallion greens into 2-inch pieces to measure 3 cups and finely chop white parts. Mince garlic. Shell and devein shrimp.

2. Fill a 6-quart pasta pot three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for scallion greens and pasta.

3. In a deep 12-inch heavy skillet cook finely chopped scallions in 2 tablespoons oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a blender and wipe skillet clean.

4. Blanch scallion greens in boiling water 30 seconds and with a slotted spoon transfer to blender. Transfer 1/4 cup scallion water to blender and reserve water remaining in pot over low heat, covered. Blend scallion mixture with 2 tablespoons oil until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Season sauce with salt and pepper.

5. In skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté half of shrimp, turning them, until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate and keep warm, covered. Sauté remaining shrimp in same manner, adding remaining tablespoon oil if necessary, and keep warm in skillet, covered.

6. Return water in pot to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente and ladle out and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta in a colander and add pasta and shrimp to skillet with sauce and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water. Heat mixture over low heat, gently tossing (and adding more pasta water as needed if mixture becomes dry), until just heated through.

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