Monday, April 3, 2017

Shrimp & Sun-Dried Tomatoes With Angel Hair Pasta

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One of my earliest memories of cooking with any of my extended family surrounds cooking angel hair pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp with my Grandma June. She had just moved from California to our little neighborhood in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I remember wondering when the moving truck would come and what might be inside, and being disappointed that she didn't have more interesting belongings when it did. I remember viewing with suspicion the shrimp (tails on) and the weird, wrinkly tomatoes. Since when did tomatoes look like raisins? Since when had anyone heard of olive oil? Friends, these were the margarine years. The years when I somehow thought it was a good idea to sneak fingerfuls of margarine from the "belly button" of the Country Crock tub and to hear Mama sing,
"Naughty pussy-cat, you know better than that. You have butter on your whiskers, naughty pussy-cat!"
I view margarine with horror now and believe olive oil to be a food of the demigods, but there was a day. Grandma June requisitioned one grandchild a week to dance attendance at the grocery store, gathering the mystic things necessary for the one night a week she came over to cook dinner at our house. Sometimes it was a peculiar but somehow-delicious pea soup thick enough to stun a codfish with. Other times it was corned beef and cabbage. Or she'd buy Captain D's. Or mall Japanese which (honestly) is the best-tasting thing on Planet Earth. Once or twice she even treated us to homemade cioppino and all I could do was marvel at the fact I was eating baby octopus and crack dumb jokes about mussels. Grandma June was from a different era, and a different culture. While thoroughly American, she'd entrenched herself so wholly in the California manner of eating fresh and local and whole foods (and yet maintains an unreasonable fondness for junk food as well). Being born in 1929, Grandma June spent a good portion of her adult life in the culture Julia Child fought so hard to counteract: the convenient, pre-packaged, soulless feed-lot food of the 1950's and 60's. So it is only in the last year that I've come to realize how revolutionary her preferences for the farm-to-table life were, both to her era and to my little grade-school world. In recent years, her mind has lost most of its ability to create and store memories, and she no longer is capable of cook complex meals in the kitchen. But I think I'll always remember her as a spry 72 year old, commandeering the stove with a brand of chaotic drama that could only belong to a dry, spry California woman long-accustomed to her independence. This dish, then, is my recreation of my favorite of the meals she marshaled in our tiny town-house kitchen to the music of our super-enthusiastic smoke alarm.

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Shrimp & Sundried Tomatoes With Angel Hair Pasta
comfortably serves 4-6

3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbs. lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1 lb. raw shrimp
1 teaspoon dried parsley, or 1 Tablespoon fresh
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss cooked pasta with a splash of olive oil or pat of butter. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. In a large skillet saute crushed garlic until golden. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and translucent. Remove shrimp from pan.
  3. Add lemon juice, zest, sun-dried tomatoes, and remaining olive oil to pan. Cook until tomatoes are softened. Add butter and melt, then add in parsley. Stir contents of skillet until well incorporated, then add in the shrimp. Toss to coat.
  4. Serve over angel-hair pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or fresh parsley and a wedge of lemon.
Do you have any very clear memories of cooking with your grandparents? What did you make together? Leave a comment and let's talk about it. Have you ever tried to recreate any of the dishes? I'd love to know. 

2 comments:

  1. Too bad I wasn't around to taste this re-creation. Good food-- good memoriesđŸ˜˜

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  2. I have very fond, vivid memories of being in my grandmother's kitchen cooking with my great -grandmother who lived with my grandparents. I'd put on her apron, climb up on a step stool and help her cook. I don't really remember what we cooked just that I loved helping her. I was in grade school and she was in her early 90s. Thanks for stirring those memories!

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