A delicious summer dish for hot summer nights
By Rebecca Peterson, Staff Writer
There’s nothing like fresh pasta for dinner, and in the summer I like my dishes full of flavour and spice. This dish is not only super easy to prepare, but can be a fun twist on your average garlic shrimp pasta, if you’re not afraid of a little heat. This recipe makes enough for four people, but can easily be adapted for smaller or larger crowds. Usually when I make it I eyeball how much pasta I’m making and adjust the ingredients accordingly depending on taste—some people don’t like quite as much garlic in their sauce as I do! Thai chili peppers are tiny, but don’t be fooled by their size, one is easily enough to give your pasta that extra kick.
4 servings of capellini (angel hair pasta)
2–4 cups of pre-cooked frozen shrimp, thawed
1 Thai chili pepper
3–5 cloves of fresh garlic
2/3 cup of chopped red onion
3 tbsp of pitted Kalamata olives
2 cups of cherry tomatoes
1 cup of Italian white wine
1–2 cups of crumbled feta cheese
Olive oil on hand
Italian seasoning to taste
Fresh basil to taste
Prep is easily going to take up the most time with this recipe, so make sure you have all your ingredients ready, your pot of water for the pasta heating on the stove top, and your shrimp thawing well in advance. If you missed your chance to take them out of the freezer earlier in the day, then prepare a bowl of warm to moderately hot water and let the bag of shrimp soak in it to thaw quicker. The pasta water should be salted and well oiled. Capellini has a bad habit of sticking together, so you really can’t have too much olive oil in the pasta water to prevent that from happening.
While the shrimp is thawing, mince your chili pepper, finely chop your red onion, and slice up your garlic cloves. I usually like to cut my garlic in long, thin strips, but it’s really up to you. Depending on how you chop them, remember to adjust your cooking time accordingly! I usually halve my Kalamata olives and leave my cherry tomatoes whole, but it’s again a personal choice on the chef’s part. One thing I love about this recipe is how flexible it is!
Pull out a skillet and put it on medium heat, with a healthy spread of olive oil across the surface. Depending on the size of your garlic slices, that’s likely what will go in first as it will take the longest to soften. The timing in cooking this recipe is the most crucial part, so start boiling your pasta water if you haven’t already.
Once the garlic starts to soften, add your red onion. I like to work the white wine in portions, so now is a good time to start slowly adding some to the sauce, one splash at a time.
When the red onion is close to starting to cook, add in your minced chili pepper. Keep stirring and adding olive oil or wine to avoid burning.
Add in your cherry tomatoes, then your olives, and, once the tomatoes start to cook and soften, add in your shrimp. The shrimp will only need about three to five minutes to heat up and soak in all your flavours, so make sure the rest of the ingredients are cooked or just about finished before throwing them in! Now is also a good time to add in your Italian seasoning and fresh basil (whole or sliced thin). Because of the powerful tastes of the pepper, the garlic, the wine, and the olives, you can be light-handed with the seasoning. Once the shrimp is done, turn the heat down to low, stirring occasionally.
The pasta water should be boiling, so it’s time to cook your capellini. Fresh capellini should only take about 2–3 minutes to cook, so don’t walk away from the stove! You want your pasta to be tender but with a little firmness to it, so if you aren’t sure, take a fork and taste-test the pasta periodically to check the texture. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot, adding a little more olive oil as you do to prevent sticking. Back on the stove, add your sauce to your pasta and stir well.
When serving, add some feta on top of the pasta, as well as the rest of your fresh basil. Serve with a glass of some Italian white wine and enjoy!