I started making a version of this recipe about a year ago when on a sleepy Sunday afternoon after several days with out a grocery run I had lemons, shrimp, tomatoes and pasta on hand and not much else. My thought process went something like – pasta+lemon+shrimp = good, pasta+tomatoes+shrimp = good, but pasta+lemon+tomatoes+shrimp = ????
I decided it was worth a shot and the results were encouraging enough that I kept making it; experimenting to get just the right combination of ingredients, process and flavors.
Then this summer Mike and I took a little Labor Day weekend excursion to Tribeca to scout out Grand Banks – a little slice of Nantucket just off Pier 25 – and have some dinner. We decided to try out Locanda Verde and I had the double benefit of trotting out joking references to my “friend,” Bob DeNiro, and tasting a real chef’s version of the pasta dish I had been dreaming of, but never quite achieving. It was in a word, heavenly.
As I ate I took careful mental notes of the flavors and textures, and on our subway ride home jotted down all the ingredients I could identify; determined that I’d get it right this time. Further motivation? The dish was one of the evening’s specials, so if I wanted to taste it again I’d have to recreate it at home. And so, I give you Spaghetti with Lemon, Shrimp & Breadcrumbs, a taverna-style recipe that you can make in your own kitchen.
Lemon Pasta with Shrimp & Roasted Tomatoes (serves 4)
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 pound (31 to 40 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound thin spaghetti (I like Barilla)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh, julienned basil
2 tablespoons fresh, minced parsley
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the cherry tomatoes with olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper on a sheet pan. Spread them out into one layer roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and just starting to blister. Turn halfway through the cooking time.
While the tomatoes are roasting, peel and devein the shrimp. Spread in one layer on a sheet pan and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. When the tomatoes are nearly finished, add the sheet pan with the shrimp to the oven and roast for 2 to 3 minutes. The shrimp are done when they begin to turn pink and are firm to the touch.
Meanwhile, cook the thin spaghetti in salted boiling water according to the package directions, about 6 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
In a large saute pan, heat the butter and oil and cook the garlic and lemon zest over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Off the heat, add 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, and lemon juice and pour this over the pasta. Toss well to coat the pasta.
Add the roasted tomatoes and shrimp to the bowl and gently toss. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of fresh basil, parsley, and breadcrumbs.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, with a little organization. I used two baking sheets, one large sauté pan, one large pot, a colander, and a large bowl. I also used a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, a microplane zester, measuring spoons and a liquid measuring cup. Tongs and a spatula will also be very helpful.
I was surprised when I first started making this dish how well the flavors compliment each other and I’ll be honest – I was pretty pleased to see it on the menu of an actual restaurant. Mike and I are both big fans of the combination – garlic, lemon, a little heat from the red pepper – the tomatoes and shrimp are a little sweet once they’ve been roasted and the overall effect is of a complete meal in one dish. Yum!