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linguini
Easy linguini, with flexible ingredients. STEVEN DESALVO/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local

linguini
STEVEN DESALVO

In “Recipe of the Month,” food writer Steven DeSalvo shares a recipe Montclairians might enjoy making.  DeSalvo has a degree in hospitality business management from the University of Delaware, and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels. If there’s something you want to know how to make, or if you’ve eaten a dish at a local restaurant you’re dying to make at home, drop us a note at culture@montclairlocal.news.

Today I wanted to make something that has been one of my favorite things to both make and eat: linguini with shrimp, garlic, and white wine. It is absolutely delicious, easy to put together, doesn’t use many ingredients, and barely takes any time at all to prepare. 

I made this linguini using pantry and freezer items. And as I mentioned last month, feel free to substitute with any ingredients that you have, especially for the protein: I used shrimp, but you can make this linguini work with any frozen (or fresh) meat or seafood. Aside from shrimp, I would suggest trying chicken or scallops. 

Ingredients

1½ tbs. salt

1 tbs. vegetable oil

12 ounces peeled, deveined frozen shrimp, defrosted and cut into ¼-of-an-inch pieces (roughly cut into thirds). If you are substituting other ingredients, be sure to cut them to the same size. 

Salt and pepper to taste

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1 tsp. fennel seed powder (This is optional. I really like it because it gives a deep depth of flavor, but it isn’t that easy to find. If you have it by all means use it. Also feel free to substitute other powdered spices, like celery powder, or even curry powder for an interesting twist. Get creative with it!)

1 tsp. chili flakes

1 lb. dried linguini (or whichever pasta your prefer)

1 cup reserved pasta cooking water (Use a glass cup measure to scoop cooking water out of the pot when it is almost done — this provides good starch.)

2 tbs. butter (It can be omitted if you want to avoid extra fat.)

½ lemon, juiced

½ cup fresh parsley, finely minced (You can use a dried herb instead; if you do, use 2 tbs instead)

1½ tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

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RECIPE OF THE MONTH: RISOTTO FROM YOUR PANTRY

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Directions

  1. Put a large pot of water up to boil. When it gets to a boil, add 1½ tablespoons salt. Adjust as necessary. The water should taste like seawater.
  2. In a large 12-inch flat-bottomed pan, add the tablespoon of vegetable oil; let it get hot on high heat.
  3. Add the shrimp, with distance between them so they don’t steam; season them with salt and pepper. Cook until they’re about 75 percent cooked through. It only takes about a minute, depending on the size of the shrimp.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to take the shrimp out of the pan, while reserving the cooking oil. 
  5. Add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, be careful not to brown the garlic.
  6. Add the cup of white wine, the fennel powder, and the chili flakes. Cook for an additional minute and then remove from heat. 
  7. Add the pasta to the water, cook until al dente. I usually suggest 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package. However, if the package has specific al dente instructions, those can usually be trusted. Also don’t forget to reserve some pasta water!
  8. When the pasta has 30 seconds of cooking left, start heating the sauce. 
  9. Drain the pasta, add it into the saucepan along with the reserved pasta water, the butter, lemon juice and the shrimp. Stir constantly so that the butter gets emulsified and the liquid starts to thicken and coat the pasta. When the liquid has thickened, taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 
  10. Remove the pasta from the heat, add the parsley and the extra-virgin olive oil. Stir to incorporate everything. 
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Some tips on making a better pasta at home

Always salt your pasta water aggressively. It seasons your pasta while cooking and also seasons your sauce when you use it to finish it. 

Finishing the pasta in the sauce is essential to having rich, intense flavors and textures. Simply pouring the sauce over cooked pasta is not comparable. 

Always add fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process, after the heat has been turned off. This helps them keep their vibrant flavor and color. 

Finally, always use high-heat vegetable oil when cooking. Never high-quality olive oil. Heat breaks down flavors, so using expensive oil is wasted. Always add olive oil at the end of the cooking process.

I really hope that you enjoy this pasta as much as I do. It is one of my favorites to throw together in a half hour or so. If you’re feeling confident, you can even make the sauce after you put the pasta in the hot water to save some time. 

Let us know if you liked the recipe and what twists you tried yourself!

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