A Stellar Standby: Buttery Shrimp Pasta with Garlic and Lemon

We all have our culinary standbys. . . those tried-and-true recipes we can make in our sleep. Tasty dishes that use simple ingredients, yet taste worthy of being on a restaurant menu. They're our favorites and our family's favorites -- the ones on our short list of what to make if someone special is coming to dinner. Although, here at Chez Gourmess, everyone who eats at our table is considered special and worthy of a delightful meal.
You've heard me moan and groan about Chris's disdain for eating pasta for dinner (something about not eating carbs at the end of the day, blah, blah, blah, etc.), so on the off chance we can eat early, I of course make pasta. One of our favorites -- an old standby -- is a lovely shrimp pasta that I've been making for years. Imagine if you will, a bowl of pasta piled high with plump, wild shrimp covered in a bright, buttery sauce bursting with lemon, garlic, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Yum! I should note that I really like using a whole grain pasta in this recipe -- it adds a nutty flavor that's a nice complement to the other ingredients, plus Chris doesn't seem to grumble as much if I point out that I'm using healthy pasta. This pasta dish pairs perfectly with a glass of crisp white wine (try a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chablis) and a green salad, if you feel like making one.

I've posted the recipe before, but I'll recap it again here.  Because it's worth sharing again and I do revise it a little each time.

Gourmess' Shrimp Pasta
1 13-14 oz. box whole wheat/multi-grain spaghetti
1 lb large, raw shrimp*
1 1/2 -2 cups mixed vegetables (peas/carrots)
1 TBS olive oil, plus more for serving
3 garlic cloves (minced)
Red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 tsp garlic powder
Kosher salt
3 TBS unsalted butter
Italian-seasoned bread crumbs 
Fresh ground black pepper
2 TBS fresh parsley and basil, minced
*Note: I used extra-jumbo wild Patagonian shrimp since that's what was in the fridge. 
Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2
To Do:
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, add in pasta and cook for about 7-9  minutes, or until it's al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid, then drain -- but do not rinse. Cover with a lid to keep warm. 
  • Make sure your shrimp is deveined (take out the black intestinal line) and remove any shells/tails. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. Chop into bite-sized pieces if extra large, otherwise leave whole. Set aside, but keep chilled. 
  • If using frozen veggies, thaw them in a colander. Note: I used frozen peas, but I peeled and diced 3 medium-sized carrots because I had some and I prefer them to frozen carrots.
  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  When the rim of your pan is hot, add the garlic and reduce the heat. Sauté until soft -- do not let it brown.  If using fresh carrots, add them to the pan and cook until tender crisp.
  • Add a couple shakes of red pepper flakes to the pan along with the lemon juice, garlic powder, and a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the butter and the reserved pasta water.
  • Add the shrimp and peas and cover the pan, cooking over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the shrimp is pink and both it and the peas are heated through. Remove from heat, but keep covered.
  • Grab a large serving bowl and add the pasta, then the shrimp and veggies. Toss until incorporated and then add a TBS or so of bread crumbs and toss again. 
  • Do the "fork test" -- twirl a bunch of the pasta and a piece of shrimp on a fork and take a bite. If it needs more salt, or perhaps a drizzle of olive oil,  add it now.
  • Scoop into bowls, and top with pepper and the fresh herbs before serving to your smiling guests.