In my pantry, I have the beginnings of an impressive cookbook collection. I’ve found that cookbooks are one of my weaknesses; I adore buying them and browsing through the glossy photos of mouth-watering food, dog-earring the pages I like best to refer to later. We are lucky enough to have inherited John’s mother’s cookbook collection, as well, full of classic recipes and timeless flavors. Food memories go deep.
I get inspired by the culinary creativity I find in these books, but despite my best intentions, I find that I rarely actually cook from them. My dog-earred pages remain hopeful but neglected. These days, my recipe-research downtime involves browsing Pinterest and my favorite websites and blogs, many of which are food-related. My “pinned” recipe count got to be so large that I had to divide it into categories. I like to research more than one similar recipe, pull ideas from them all, and add my own twist to challenge myself. Another source of mealtime ideas is the television: between Food Network and the Cooking Channel, I have a long list of recipes saved in a file on my iPhone to try. This lemony linguine came about after I watched an episode of Giada at Home. YUM, I thought. That looks good for dinner tonight. I took what I’d seen on television as a starting point: shrimp, lemon, fried capers. I added other flavors, too. The result was a simple, scrumptious, relatively light pasta dish that had us going back for seconds!
The weather in Park City has been tricky lately. One moment it’s so warm that I’m lowering the shades against the sun, and in the next, I’m lighting candles to enjoy while I’m cooking because it’s gray outside and it just feels right. After starting a pot on the stove to cook the pasta, I got started by frying some drained capers in olive oil and setting them aside on a paper towel until later. Next, I sautéed a pound of shrimp, tails removed, seasoning both sides with plenty of salt and pepper as they cooked. As soon as they were pink, I removed the shrimp from the pan.
I’d already gotten the linguine going in the boiling water. Meanwhile, I’d chopped up some garlic and a shallot. I also pulled some herbs from the garden: basil, Italian parsley, and thyme. In another swirl of olive oil, I sautéed the shallot and garlic with some crushed red pepper. When the shallots were tender, I poured in a little white wine to deglaze the pan. I added a handful of Parmesan cheese and let the sauce simmer for a bit while I zested a lemon and grated more cheese.
I drained the pasta, reserving a bit of the pasta water, and returned the linguine to the pot. I grated some Parmesan cheese right onto the hot noodles. I squeezed the juice of the zested lemon over the pasta and tossed it with some tongs. I added about ½ a cup of pasta water back into the pot, too.
The herbs made their way into the white wine/shallot sauce, as did the shrimp. After a few minutes on the heat, I poured the whole thing over the lemony pasta. Next came the lemon zest and the fried capers. After a good stir, I tasted the dish and adjusted the seasonings. Dinner’s ready!
I served a big pile of pasta topped with more Parmesan and parsley. Without lots of veggies in this meal, the shrimp is really the star. The lemon and parsley together lighten the flavor of the overall dish, and it’s got a hint of heat from the crushed red pepper. The capers provide a salty pop when you get one on your fork! A piece of buttered toast, a nice glass of wine, and a plate of lemony linguine… the perfect weeknight dish.
This fall, I’m going to make a point of diving into my lovely, dog-earred cookbook collection and find some special recipes. Until then, I’ll print this one off and tuck it into my ever-thickening binder under “Pastas.” Who knows? Maybe someday, my kids will be thumbing through the recipes I collected, smiling at my scribbled notes and thankful that they have the memories of my food.
What’s your favorite cookbook? Share with me!
Lemony Linguine with Shrimp, Fried Capers, and Herbs (inspired by Giada)
- ¾ lb. linguine (or other pasta)
- I lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- Teaspoon of crushed red pepper
- ¾ cup white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 ½ cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- ¼ cup each of chopped basil, thyme, and Italian parsley (plus more parsley for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons of capers, drained
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and return pasta to the pot, reserving some of the pasta water. While the pasta is still warm, add ½ cup of the Parmesan and the juice of the lemon and toss.
In a sauté pan, heat a couple of swirls of olive oil and add the drained capers. When they’re fried, remove and set aside on a paper towel. Add more oil if necessary and sauté the shrimp, turning once and seasoning with salt and pepper. When the shrimp are pink on both sides, remove them from the pan until later.
In the shrimp oil, sauté the garlic and shallot with crushed red pepper. When the shallot is tender, add the white wine. Add ½ cup of the Parmesan and let simmer for about five minutes. Add the herbs and shrimp back to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Pour the shrimp and sauce over the lemony pasta. Add the lemon zest and fried capers. Combine well and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with remaining Parmesan and parsley. Yum!
Hungry for more? Check out the recipe collection on the FOOD BLISS page.
One year ago: “Feel Better” Fudgy Cream Cheese Brownies.