So the name Shrimp Scampi irritates me, because I feel like the word scampi is actually referring to the shrimp, which would make Shrimp Scampi redundant and silly. That is sort of true. Scampo (plural: scampi) is actually a Norwegian lobster which is similar, but smaller I think, than an American lobster, and in some languages/countries, etc, scampi refers to large prawns or shrimpish creatures. The way these things were traditionally prepared, it seems, was with garlic, which which is why it is called Shrimp Scampi when shrimp was prepared that way even though technically, in the original prep the scampi WAS the “shrimp.” At any rate, the dish has become an Italian-American staple called Shrimp Scampi, so I guess that is what I will call it even though it doesn’t sound right.
Scampi is basically shrimp cooked with a lot of garlic, butter and oil and served over pasta (mostly, but I have also seen/enjoyed it over rice.)
The trick, I think, with this dish, is getting the flavor from the oil and butter, and creating a good sauce, without being greasy or oily. Ratio of pasta to sauce helps, as does adding wine and/or lemon juice (I do both.) The lemon, in particular, also adds a brightness which is lovely against the richness of the oil and butter.
There really is nothing to this. You want to prep all your ingredients ahead of time because it cooks quickly, and you definitely don’t want to overcook the shrimp. They’re the star and overcooked shrimp are the worst. Mince everything, boil the water and then drop the pasta in as you melt the butter and oil together and you should be in good shape. When the butter is melted, add the garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes and cook until they start to soften, one to two minutes. Add the wine and turn up the heat to let the wine boil and reduce a bit, another one to two minutes, add the shrimp, the lemon juice and zest and cook for another one or two minutes until the shrimp is almost cooked through. Add the cooked pasta and the parsley to the shrimp and sauce and toss together to finish cooking and coat the pasta. Voila! Dunzo! Scampi deliciousness in about 20 minutes!
This is perfect if you are craving quick pasta, but don’t feel like vodka sauce, again, if you went to the dentist to get a crown that morning and the temporary cement they use has left a metallic potpourri taste in your mouth, if you are trying to impress someone with something that feels fancy but is actually super easy (but not on a date, please, this stuff is potent) if you need some comfort food as you are watching your infuriating Boston Celtics forget the basics of rebounding and ball possession…really, it’s an all occasion pasta…
1. The Celtics are bumming me out.
2. Also bumming me out? Maria and Arnold splitting up…that’s a weird one, I know, but true. It’s been 25 years! They seemed to really like each other, in spite of their weirdness as a couple. Sad.
3. It’s softshell crab season! WHEEE! I made this the other night. And it was so delicious (because how could softshell crab be anything but…) that I went back last night to try to get another one and the ladies were out…boo. Patience, young jedi.
4. I have been dying to share empanadas that I have made several times with you all because they (and I quote) “might be the best things you’ve ever made…” but I have been hesitant because apparently crimping dough is my kryptonite and they look ridiculous when I make them…I finally said forget it and took pictures anyway, so you’ll get to see them at some point. They really do taste awesome.
5. I made my buttermilk cake the other day for Mother’s Day and accidentally doubled the butter. Still delicious! Less healthy.
6. I have a rando cleaning tip that I need to share because it would be cruel not to…Lestoil. This stuff is AMAZING. You can get it in the supermarket near the old fashioned stuff like Borax, and I vow NEVER to be without it. I discovered it in high school when some jack wagon threw an open permanent marker at me, and I asked one of our art teachers if he knew of anything that might get it out, he recommended Lestoil AND IT WORKED. Permanent marker! PERMANENT. Completely gone. And then last night I had a minor (or maybe not so minor) panic attack when I was sitting on my couch and didn’t realize I had dropped an open roller ball pen onto my light colored couch and a black ink spot was rapidly forming in a prominent location. Broke out the Lestoil. It is totally gone. Seriously. Get this. It’s cheap and amazing, and also works to clean floors. Mego’s tip o’ the week.
7. From one of my favorite websites The Hairpin – thoughts about what your American Girl doll from your childhood says about you now (I had Kirsten, not sure why I ended up with her, you’ll have to ask Ma Dukes – I wanted Samantha Parkington because she was sooooo pretty)…
You probably got Kirsten because she was blond, or because you read a lot of Little House on the Prairie books. (It definitely wasn’t because of her “St. Lucia Christmas Outfit” … yikes!)…
…You therefore grew up to be a bit more thoughtful, a bit more reserved than your peers. You also find yourself inexplicably drawn towards crafts like knitting, jam-making, and quilting. You secretly suspect that you’d manage just fine in a post-Apocalyptic setting, should things come to that. You were surprised and delighted to see some of Kirsten’s outfits come back into style in certain enclaves of Brooklyn.”
HA. (Incidentally, if any of you out there also had Kirsten, did you suffer through the tragic discovery that taking her hair down from the braids and brushing it out like it was pictured when she was wearing her nightgown in the catalog made it impossible to get her hair back up in the braids EVER again? And did you cry about this as you were wearing your super cozy real-girl sized MATCHING Kirsten Larson flannel nightgown? No? Just me? Or…errrr, I mean, just somebody that I knew? OK.)
8. Music recommendation of the day: Josh Ritter. I am particularly enjoying “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter” right now.
9. Farmers’ markets start in the next two weeks around here. Yippee! I think I am going to try canning stuff this year. Because canning stuff will absolutely add to my cool quotient by a factor of ten, amiright?
Shrimp Scampi over Linguine (serves 2)
1/2 lb dried linguine
2 tbl olive oil
3 tbl butter
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tbls finely minced garlic (about four large cloves)
1 tbl finely minced shallot (about one small)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of half a lemon
1/2 lb medium or large shrimp (not small, and not too large or there won’t be enough of them – I used 21-30 size)
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
chopped parsley to serve
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook linguine until just al dente. Meanwhile in a large skillet or saute pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Add red pepper flakes, garlic and shallots and cook until garlic and shallots are soft, stirring to prevent burning, about two minutes (lower heat if it seems garlic is cooking too quickly.) Add wine and bring to a boil. Let simmer and reduce for a minute or two, then add shrimp, lemon zest and juice and cook shrimp, turning occasionally, until almost cooked through, about two minutes. Add the cooked linguine to the shrimp and butter, toss to combine and finish cooking, adding a splash of the pasta cooking water to make a bit saucier if necessary. Remove from heat, toss parsley with the pasta and serve!