Shrimp and Tomato Pasta
Frozen shrimp is a freezer staple that can be counted on to save dinner any night — simply thaw to use them whenever needed. Here, shrimp and spaghetti are tossed with juicy cherry tomatoes, which are gently simmered until they burst and turn saucy. This dish is best with ripe, in-season cherry tomatoes, but the aromatic fennel seeds and garlic infused in the oil will coax maximum flavor out of less enthusiastic tomatoes while adding depth to the sauce.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 8tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1pound peeled and deveined frozen shrimp (16/20-count), thawed and cut into thirds
- Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- 3large garlic cloves, gently smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 1teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2pounds cherry tomatoes, larger ones halved, small ones kept whole
- 1pound spaghetti
- Handful of basil leaves, torn
- Black pepper
Step 1In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add the shrimp, season with 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a dish and set aside. Discard any excess liquid in the pan.
Step 2Add the remaining 6 tablespoons oil and the garlic cloves to the same pan and cook over medium-low, turning the garlic a couple of times until light gold and fragrant, taking care not to burn them, about 4 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes, stir and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium and add the cherry tomatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
Step 3Cook the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until they release their juices and get saucy, 25 to 30 minutes. While the tomatoes cook, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
Step 4Transfer the shrimp with any juices to the tomatoes to reheat for a couple of minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning.
Step 5Set the pasta pot next to the saucepan and use tongs to transfer the spaghetti to the tomatoes and shrimp. The starchy water clinging to the spaghetti will make for a tasty and silky sauce. (You can drain the spaghetti, if you prefer. If you do, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water to add as needed for a silky sauce.) Remove the pan from the heat, add the basil and toss well. Season with black pepper to taste and serve.