Food & Drink

For a quick-fix meal, give shrimp scampi a try

If you love shrimp, what's not to like about lemony shrimp scampi?
If you love shrimp, what's not to like about lemony shrimp scampi? MCT

What's not to like about shrimp sautéed in butter with garlic?

Shrimp scampi has a long history, but definitions vary, from how it's prepared (shrimp shelled or not) and cooked (baked, broiled, sautéed) to what it's cooked with.

In Italian, scampi refers to varieties of small lobsters, including Dublin Bay prawns, according to the The Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

On restaurant menus, scampi generally describes a dish in which shrimp, usually large, are sautéed in butter, garlic, lemon juice and wine. Usually it's with lots of garlic and butter. It's super rich and delicious.

Shrimp takes to all sorts of marinades. The key is not to leave it soaking for a long time, especially if the marinade contains citrus juices — unless you're making seviche and the acidic juices are designed to cook the shrimp (or other firm fish).

To give this dish added richness, I added heavy whipping cream. The sauce should just coat the pasta. For a saucier dish, you may add more cream or some of the reserved pasta cooking water.

Easy lemony shrimp scampi

8 ounces angel-hair pasta

1½ pounds large shrimp (12 to 15 per pound) in the shell

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons dry white wine, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic (about 4 medium cloves)

¼ cup minced shallots

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1⁄3 cup heavy whipping cream

¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions just until al dente.

While the water heats, peel shrimp, leaving the tail intact, if desired. Devein the shrimp, using a paring knife to make a slit on the back, starting at the head and working toward the tail. Remove and discard the vein.

Place shrimp in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, 2 tablespoons wine, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat butter until melted over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute; do not brown. Add shallots and red pepper flakes, and sauté 3 minutes, until shallots are translucent. Add shrimp mixture, scraping sides of the bowl to get some of the olive oil, wine, salt and pepper into the skillet. Cook shrimp on each side until opaque. Add remaining 2 tablespoons white wine, and stir to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the skillet. Stir in heavy cream, parsley, lemon zest and juice. Continue cooking until slightly thickened.

Reserve ½ cup pasta-cooking water and drain pasta. Add pasta to skillet and stir to coat with sauce. The sauce should just coat the pasta and shrimp. Add some of the remaining pasta-cooking water and more cream for a saucier dish.

Makes 4 servings.