May 6, 2009

Shrimp and Feta Penne in Photos

Posted in Pasta: stovetop tagged , , at 11:09 pm by jenniec00ks

Yum-O!!  Shrimp and Feta Pasta

Yum-O!! Shrimp and Feta Pasta

So this is essentially Rachael Ray’s “Anna Maria’s Greek Shrimp and Feta Penne” from her Classic 30-Minute Meals cookbook.  We’re using that marjoram and feta from the Red Onion Pasta I showed y’all the other day.

shrimpandfeta-001Frozen shrimp is a fabulous protein to keep on hand because it keeps well over several weeks time and more importantly, dethaws in just minutes under running cold water.  I recommend the “easy peel” kind that have a cut down the back and the vein removed.  The “vein” is shrimp’s digestive track and looks like a black thread running down the back.  I have also found that peeling the shrimp under running water makes it easier to peel and washes out any remains of a vein as well.  Shrimp are labeled with the usual unhelpful relative terms small, medium, large, etc., so pay attention to the count in the bag.  The numbers will look something like “31/40” (on large) or “41/50” (on medium).  The numbers represent how many of that size shrimp constitute a pound, i.e. 31-40 large shrimp will weigh ~1lb.  I used about 14-16 large shrimp for 2 servings.

shrimpandfeta-002Moving on, you’ll also need half a box of penne, a touch of white wine, ~18oz. of crushed tomatoes (I had to use diced, it’s all I could find that day), 1/2 of the 8oz. box of crumbled feta cheese (any variety you like, I’m still using up the reduced-fat I had last night), and some fresh marjoram.  The parsley is optional, and as is any Italian dried herb combination you’ve got on hand.  To start, I really like garlic so I put 6 cloves in this dish; if you don’t share my love for it, you could go with 3 to still flavor the sauce.  Let’s have a quick garlic peel/chop recap, shall we?

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Separate the cloves, lay your knife flat over one clove, give it a light whack (avoid the blade), and the peel should come right off.  Then mince as fine as you’d like.

As usual, get a pot of water on to boil (high heat, with a cover).  You can add salt to the water to “flavor the pasta” as many would recommend, however, I find you have to add an awful lot of salt to taste the difference in the pasta.  When the water boils, remove the cover and add about 2 cups of pasta (1 cup is a pretty large serving of penne).  Always boil the pasta uncovered, otherwise the starchy water will foam up and overflow.  Cook the penne for however long your box says, mine goes for ~11 minutes.

shrimpandfeta-012Heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the usual saucepan/wok over medium heat.  After the oil is heated, get the chopped garlic in.  If your garlic turns brown, your heat was too high!  Pick up the pan and lower the heat like I did.  After about a minute, I added ~1/3 cup of white wine.  If you’ve got an open-flame cooking range (usually gas), make sure you MOVE THE PAN off the fire before adding alcohol.  Let the alcohol bubble off for about 3 minutes, after that about half of what you added should be left in the pan.

shrimpandfeta-013shrimpandfeta-014Then add the crushed (in my case, diced) tomatoes and let it simmer for a minute.  Add the crumbled feta cheese and stir so that it melts.  Don’t be disturbed if the crumbled kind doesn’t melt all the way into the sauce, it doesn’t always for me.

While you’re stirring in the feta cheese, add the fresh marjoram and any dried herbs you’d like to flavor the tomatoes.  I happen to have some McCormick’s Italian blend nearby, so I threw a pinch or two in.  Then it’s time for the shrimp!shrimpandfeta-015shrimpandfeta-017

Stir in the shrimp and let it simmer for a few minutes, or until the shrimp become pink and begin to curl.  Then it’s time to turn off the burner and add the pasta and fresh parsley.  Give it a good toss together, then you’re ready to serve!

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Bon appetit!  Wait, one more thing.  If you don’t take out your trash on a daily basis, throwing those shrimp shells away raw will make your kitchen smell something fierce by the next morning.

shrimpandfeta-016So drain your pasta water over the shrimp shells to cook them, and be sure to get them outside within 48 hours.  If it’ll be longer than that, put them in a plastic bag and tie it shut to keep the odors in.  If you’re really dedicated to stocks, you could also freeze your shrimp shells ’till you collect a pound or two to make shrimp stock out of.  I’ve only done it once or twice to make a fabulous gumbo base.

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