Monday, October 22, 2007

Orecchiette with Shrimp, fresh-water Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Olives, and Basil

During the week for a variety of reasons, which you don't really want to know, (I would not want to bore you) I am sometimes short on time and 6 o'clock is here before I can blink twice and click my ruby red shoes home. This is a great dish to put together in a flash- the best part wont taste like you put it together in a flash! One very important note though, it will only be as good as what you put in it; the wine, the cheese, the olives, the pasta, and most of all-- the tomatoes. I live in the south, so for me good fresh home-grown tomatoes are available almost year round...after all, I should get some perk for living in 100% humidity! In the event good tomatoes are scarce, a 14 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes (whole, then roughly chopped) will work well.

Notes: I have never found Cerignola Olives which are already pitted, but because they are so large I just slice the meat off the pit with a paring knife. (Cerignolas are my favorite olive, but any good quality black or green olive will work). I try to always use fresh pasta for this dish, fresh Orecchiette it is available at Whole Foods. If Orecchiette is not available at your market, I would substitute with another shape of fresh pasta. Boil the pasta until al dente or a little before, this should take about three minutes over a rolling boil. Finish cooking the pasta in the the pan with the sauce, this will allow it to soak up all the flavors in the dish. There will not be much sauce left when the dish is finished, it should have almost all been soaked up by the Orecchiette. Adding the cheese in stages allows for some of the cheese to melt and some of it to remain whole.

Orecchiette with Shrimp, Fresh-water Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Olives and Basil

1 lb. fresh shrimp
1 1lb. package fresh Orecchiette pasta (the type I get is actually 500 grams, 17 oz.)
1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, plus additional basil for garnish
1/4 cup black Cerignola olives, pitted
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup salted capers
1/4 cup white wine
1 pt. fresh-water mozzarella, roughly chopped
salt to taste

1. In a large stock pot bring water for pasta to a rolling boil. Add fresh pasta and cook for about 3 minutes or until barely al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large pan heat olive oil over medium heat, add shrimp, season with salt and pepper. Cook shrimp until opaque in color. With a slotted spoon, remove shrimp from pot and set aside.

3. In the same pot with the olive oil, add garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes, capers, olives and tomatoes. Saute over medium heat until garlic is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup white wine and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

4. Add pasta, and basil and cook for 3 minutes longer. Turn off the heat, add half the mozzarella and shrimp. Cover the pot and allow the dish to sit for about 10-15 minutes, this will allow the pasta to soak up most of the sauce and the mozzarella will melt. Add reserved mozzarella, garnish with reserved basil, taste for salt and pepper and serve.


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