Lately, I’ve been on a roll with olive oil and garlic based pasta sauces. Not a tomato in sight. Tonight, I decided to develop a new recipe and between myself, my wife and son it was gone before I remembered I was supposed to take a picture of it for the blog. I was quite pleased with the results. Here is the recipe:
Little Buddy’s Shrimp, Spinach, Artichoke and Feta Pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons parsley flakes (fresh would be better)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can artichoke hearts in water (14 oz)
1 lb bag fresh spinach
1 lb 21-25 count shrimp, unshelled, heads off
1/2 lb thin spaghetti
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 oz sheep’s milk feta cheese
fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste
How to make
1. Heat olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Note, I use cast iron for everything except boiling water for pasta. Because of the spinach and the completed dish is in this pot, use a large pot rather than a saute or frying pan.
2. Crush garlic cloves with flat of a good large knife. This releases the garlic flavor and makes peeling the cloves really easy. Peel and mince. Add to the hot oil and saute for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Smell good yet?
3. Add parsley and red pepper flakes and stir for 2 minutes.
4. Drain artichokes and cut hearts into quarters. Add to the pot (don’t worry about the residual water). Stir for 3 minutes.
5. Add the fresh spinach (yes, it will cook down, more than you may think). Stir as it wilts down. Now is the time to check if there is enough oil in the pot. This is not an overly oily dish, but it needs enough to fully coat the ingredients. Add a bit if needed.
6. Check the seasoning at this point. Be very careful with the salt (most recipes call for way too much salt (baking recipes excepted). Add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt. You can always add more when it is on your plate, plus remember that the cheeses are salty. The worst thing that can happen to any recipe is too much salt. You may also want to add some more red pepper flakes depending on how hot you like it. Taste and adjust.
7. At this point, if your spaghetti is not already done, turn down the spinach mixture to very low. This is crucial in order to ensure the shrimp does not get overcooked (almost as bad as too much salt).
8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente, and stir it frequently, don’t just leave it in the water, around 8 minutes for regular store bought thin spaghetti. Do not overcook. Drain spaghetti in a colander and set aside.
9. Peel and devein the shrimp. Bring the spinach mixture back up to medium heat and add the shrimp. Stir constantly, ensuring the shrimp get evenly cooked. Do not overcook! Did I mention not to overcook? Shrimp should start turning light pink. Stir for 2 more minutes and crumble and add the feta cheese. DO NOT use the generic grocery store feta, tofu has more taste. Stir for a couple of minutes until the feta starts to melt and the shrimp is cooked. Take off heat.
10. Add the spaghetti and thoroughly toss.
11. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. DO NOT use the crap in the green cans from the grocery store!