This dish is my riff on something that my friend, Caitlin, ordered when we were out to dinner recently. The funny thing is, when I read “Angel Hair with Shrimp” on the menu, it didn’t really excite me and I ended up choosing something else. But, wow, when the waiter brought this over to Caitlin, it lured me in - pink shrimp curled around angel hair pasta glistening with garlic infused olive oil, the pile topped with a thick layer of parmigiano-reggiano cheese. The whole thing resembled a little snow capped mountain on the plate and, suddenly, what I ordered paled by comparison! Then and there, I vowed to replicate this dish.
After brainstorming and taking an inventory of my frig, I came up with an adaptation – I included shallots, asparagus, lots of fresh herbs and lemon (juice and zest). I know that “light pasta dish” seems like an oxymoron, but this one truly is fresh and bright and healthy (provided that you don’t eat the entire pound of pasta, which you will be tempted to do!). I served it warm, but I imagine that it would also be wonderful chilled. And best of all, the whole thing was made in the time it took for the pasta to boil! My kind of meal!
1 lb. angel hair pasta
3/4 cup, plus 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch asparagus
24-30 large shrimp
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1/2 c. chopped basil (cut into thin ribbons)
salt and pepper, to taste
grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, to taste (optional)
Set a pot of water up to boil. Once boiling rapidly, salt the water and add the angel hair pasta. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, bring 1/2 inch of water to boil over medium-high heat. Drop in asparagus spears and cook until crisp tender (approx. 2-4 minutes, depending on how thick the spears are). Drain, chop into pieces 1-2 inches in length (see photo) and set aside.
Add 3 Tbsp. olive oil and the diced shallots. When they are translucent (approx. 2 minutes), add the minced garlic and saute for another minute. Lay the shrimp in a single layer on top of the shallots and garlic. Cook for approximately 2 minutes per side. Add the asparagus back into the pan, along with the rest of the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil ribbons and chopped parsley. Turn the heat down to low. By now, the angel hair should be just about done. Toss that in, too, and mix everything up. Cook over low heat for 3-5 minutes. If you wish, serve with a generous sprinkling of parmigiano-reggiano cheese.