my new go to: bittman’s penne with tomato-shrimp sauce

Friends, I have something to confess.  I love to cook — but I also love to spend time with Nate, read, and jazzercise (okay, one of those things is decidedly not like the others).  Which means that when I’m pulling together a dinner that requires pasta sauce, I always reach for the closest jar of Prego or Ragu (whatever’s on sale), and never really consider making my own.

But then I saw a recipe in Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for Penne with Tomato-Shrimp Sauce.  And the whole she-bang is based on a home-made tomato sauce composed of browned garlic, red chili flakes, olive oil, rosemary, parsley, and chopped fresh (or canned, if you take shortcuts like me) tomatoes.  The process is a bit involved, but (and I’m speaking from experience here) totally worth the work and the wait.

I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but I almost fell out of my chair when I tasted this sauce — it’s light, fresh, not at all salty (unlike many of those canned sauces), and perfectly complements the shrimp.  Serve it over pasta, eat it up, and expect to never go back to that jarred stuff again.

Penne with Tomato-Shrimp Sauce

From How to Cook Everything


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small dried hot red chile or hot red pepper flakes, to taste

2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded (or drained canned)

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound penne or other cut pasta

3/4 to 1 pound large (21-30) shrimp, peeled, cut up if very large

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the chiles and garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic turns brown (this is a somewhat strong-tasting sauce), about 1 minute.

2. Remove and discard the chiles and garlic and add the tomatoes.  Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to liquefy, about 5 minutes; add the rosemary and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the shrimp until cooked.

3. Cook the pasta in the boiling water; when the pasta just begins to soften, stir the shrimp into the sauce — they need cook for only 3 or 4 minutes — along with most of the parsley.  Drain the pasta when it is tender but not mushy, then toss it with the sauce and remaining parsley.  Serve immediately.


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