July 04, 2010

Seafood Shrimp Marinara Pasta

First of all, sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. I made this dish on a night where I didn't have a dish planned, which meant it was a night to cook whatever I had in the fridge, pantry and hope it was edible. This night it was shrimp, spinach and canned tomatoes. WELL. This turned out so fantastic that I rushed to take a picture of the end product before eating.

Several week ago, I bought these large shrimp with their head on in the asian grocery. I love shrimp but especially love shrimp that still have their head on.  The shrimp meat itself doesn't burst with a ton of flavor but with the head, ack, SO much more  - which is perfect to add that big punch of seafood flavoring to soups, sauces, etc.

I know it's hard to find shrimp with their head still on in the normal grocery stores - my Kroger doesn't have - so if you venture out to the chinatown or fiesta in your area, just buy 1 or 2 lbs if they look fresh.  It doesn't hurt that they are usually cheaper there too!  (These huge shrimp were only 6.99/lb - steal!)  When I get home, I like to portion them into individual sandwich/ziploc bags to freeze so you dont have to defrost your entire bag of shrimp when you only need a few.  For the ones used in this dish, I put 6 shrimp per bag.  When you need them, take them out 30 minutes prior to cooking and put in sink with water to help them defrost completely. 

Shrimp Marinara Pasta
Serves 3-4

1 lb spaghetti or linguine
6 large shrimp head-on
2 tbsp butter
32 oz can of tomatoes whole
1 can of tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 small balls of mozarella, chopped into small cubes
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup grated parmessan
fresh basil chopped

1. Make sure to wash and clean your shrimp as well as the spinach.  Bring a big pot of water with a big pinch of salt to boil and cook the pasta.

2. In another saucepan, melt the butter and then add in the can of tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir the sauce to make sure the paste is spread out and incorporated with the sauce.  I let it cook on medium heat for a good 5-10 minutes.  Then I crush the tomatoes with my wooden spoon so that you get nice big chunks of tomatoes.  I'm sure you can add fresh tomatoes instead but I used what I had! 

3. Add in the sugar, pinch of S&P, dried basil and dried oregano. Give it a taste and add more of any of the above as needed.  Let it cook for another 2 minutes so flavors start incorporating.

4. Next, add in the shrimp make sure they are immersed in the sauce, cover and let it sit for a good 4-5 minutes.  This is where the magic happens.  The juice and flavors from the shrimp heads seeps into the sauce and gives you that great seafood sauce.  Check the shrimp depending on  how big they are - they may need shorter or longer time to cook.

5. Take this off the heat and immediately pour into your big pasta serving bowl and add in the mozarella and spinach.  You need to do this quick so that the cheese and spinach melt and cook from the heat of the sauce.  Next, add in your drained, cooked pasta and give it a good mix. 

5. Last, top with the shredded parmesan and fresh chopped basil.