Quick meals with all the goodies combined in one dish: the older I get, the more I like ’em. Any meal that doesn’t require more than a couple pans-I’m in. I’m not sure if it’s laziness or what, but I love filling my plate from one big dish and maybe adding a piece of bread or fruit and calling it good. I save the multiple dish meals for special family get-togethers and holidays.
That’s why I love this shrimp pasta dish. Pasta cooks quickly and shrimp is done in a flash. But the real stars of this dish are the asparagus and grape tomatoes. Five minutes or so of veggie prep, then cook the asparagus right in the pot along with the spaghetti during it’s last few minutes. Throw in the sweet little tomatoes “as is” so there’s no tomato-y mushiness. Squirt some lemon juice in to brighten things up. Ahh, springtime in a skillet.
Let’s talk asparagus for a moment. If you aren’t familiar with it, the ends of asparagus are “woody” (and yucky). They need to be trimmed before eating. There are two schools of thought on asparagus trimming: some folks suggest just holding the stalk of asparagus in your hand and bending it. It’s supposed to break at the natural point where the woodiness ends and you’re left with a perfect, edible stalk. However, tests have proven that where it breaks actually depends more on how you hold it when you’re bending it. So sometimes you break off and discard perfectly good asparagus. You’re throwing away food-and money. I prefer to look at the size of the stalks I’m buying and cut the ends with a knife accordingly. On thinner stalks I trim about an inch off. On fatter stalks I trim one and a half inches, or slightly more. You’ll see where the stalks seem to go from a white/light green color to a deeper green. Trim off those dried looking, light colored ends and discard them. Store the remainder of the asparagus you aren’t using in the refrigerator like this: trim one inch off the ends of the stalks, wrap the rubber band that held all the stalks together back around them, stand them upright in a cup (a drinking glass works, too) containing a couple inches of water (cut ends in the water). Loosely cover with a plastic bag. Keep for up to a week, changing the water if it looks cloudy.
I’ve made this using both cream and half and half. I prefer the cream, because there’s no thickening agent (i.e. flour) in this recipe and the cream mixed with the parmesan cheese makes a sauce just thick enough to stick to the pasta. You can see in the photos it appears most of the sauce has sunk to the bottom because I used half and half this time, and it’s thinner. But fat/calories can be a consideration so I’ve included the option. I also let you pick the amount of tomatoes. (I like options!) Add more than half a cup if you really like ’em.
Now that I’m no longer waking up to temps in the thirties or threats of snow (I think that was in the forecast just last week-umm, is it really May?), I’m loving all things spring. Like asparagus, lemons, moving the clock forward an hour (yessss! I know some people hate that but I love the daylight to extend into my evenings) and shrimp. Okay, shrimp has nothing to do with springtime. But it’s in this dish and if you make it for dinner you’ll have more time to enjoy that daylight.
Creamy Parmesan Shrimp Pasta
- 8-10 oz. uncooked spaghetti
- ½ Tbs. cooking oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. medium-size raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 c. cream or half & half
- Juice of one lemon
- One half of a bundle of asparagus, ends trimmed and cut in thirds (about 8 ounces before trimming)
- ½-1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2/3 c. shredded parmesan cheese (not the grated kind in the can), divided use
- Step 1 Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
- Step 2 During last 4 minutes of cooking time, add the cut asparagus to the boiling spaghetti water (throw it right in the pot with the pasta).
- Step 3 While spaghetti is cooking, add cooking oil to a large non-stick skillet.
- Step 4 Add the garlic and heat on medium just until it begins to soften.
- Step 5 Add shrimp to skillet in a single layer, salt and pepper to taste, and cook 2-3 minutes.
- Step 6 Flip shrimp. Salt and pepper again, and cook another 2 minutes or until cooked through.
- Step 7 Turn the heat down slightly and push all the shrimp to one side of the skillet.
- Step 8 Add the cream, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate cheese as mixture thickens.
- Step 9 Drain the spaghetti/asparagus and add to skillet, mixing everything together.
- Step 10 Mix in the sliced tomatoes.
- Step 11 Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup parmesan.