There are a lot of things that make me happy in life and cooking is certainly one of those things. Coming home from work and chopping onions or carrots or whatever it is that I’m chopping away at, instantaneously makes me forget about anything that’s stressing me out. It’s like free therapy; people wasting their money away at 150 bucks an hour should really take up cooking. Just a side thought.
Being lazy with Kevin or hanging out with family also makes me happy. Instant comfort and fun, right?
You know what else is making me happy at this very moment? Feeling like I’m actually somewhat technologically savvy (even though I’m totally not). I’ve finally found out how to master a new little trick in Photoshop. This may seem silly to you but Photoshop is so overwhelming, and each time I learn something new I feel like I’m a student again, finally mastering something I’m completely terrible at. It’s like a foreign language to me; layers, huh? Saturation, what? So forgive me if I get a little overzealous with the tiny triumphs I make in the Photoshop world. Now… only 1,129 things left to figure out in the black hole of Photoshop.
Summertime is also one of those things that makes me eternally happy. Give me warm weather, a pool, and the luxury to be outside at all hours of the day and you get one blissful girl; even if it’s 110 degrees and there isn’t one hint of a breeze. Sadly, I can already feel the rigid heat slipping away by the second, giving way for the incoming cold and I don’t like it—not one bit.
Since summertime is getting away from us, and since I can’t quite let go yet, I’m sneaking in one last summery dish. A toast of sorts to the end of summer and the last (tear) summer dish I’ll post until spring. And, hey, over half the country is still having weather in the 80’s this week, so let’s just pretend fall never happened for today. Deal?
This is the perfect quick and easy week night meal. It comes together in less than 30 minutes and couldn’t be easier. A tomato compound butter is melted into al dente pasta and then tossed with crisp asparagus, charred sweet corn, and sautéed shrimp. Top the whole thing off with a little grated parmesan cheese and you have a light, super easy, and scrumptious dish.
Compound butter is a wonderful thing and there are about a million different ways to make it. Lemon butter, orange butter, chipotle butter, basil butter, garlic butter, truffle butter, parmesan butter, chive butter, cinnamon sugar butter….you get the picture. But one of my most favorite and in my opinion most versatile butters is tomato butter. Mix softened butter with some concentrated tomato paste and salt, roll in a log, and chill and you’ve got something that can be used as a secret culinary weapon to make an instant sauce for just about anything.
In this case we are using the tomato butter as a sauce for pasta. Mix about four tablespoons into the hot pasta and watch the magic happen. Add a little salted pasta water to loosen the sauce up. The idea here isn’t to drown the pasta in sauce; you want it lightly coated so you taste just a hint of the tomato butter.
Stay tuned tomorrow for other ways to use this compound butter.
Ever wonder how green vegetables retain their vibrant color? The secret is to blanch all your veggies. This is one of those food words that not many people know about, really all it means is to cook the veggies in boiling water for a few minutes and then immediately transfer to an ice water bath. This essentially “shocks” the veggies and stops the cooking process while maintaining that gorgeous green color. Fun fact, right?
Season shrimp with a little bit of salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked through about two minutes.
Sauté shallots and garlic in a little bit of olive oil.
Add in a little bit of dry white wine and red pepper flakes. Reduce a minute or two. Add in cooked pasta.
Dollop tomato butter on the pasta and mix until combined, adding in pasta water as needed.
Add in cooked veggies, shrimp, and cheese. Add more pasta water if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
- 1 pound pasta (preferably something that will catch sauce like Campanelle, Fusilli, or Penne Rigate)
- ½ pound small shrimp
- 1 large shallot thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup tomato chopped
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons tomato butter (recipe below)
- 2 cups asparagus cut in bite size pieces
- 1 cup corn, charred on the grill
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water about two minutes. Shock in an ice water bath. Set aside.
- Cook pasta to al dente in the same pot of boiling salted water. Drain. Set aside. Save some pasta water.
- Sauté shrimp seasoned with a little salt and pepper in a large sauté pan until cooked through about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- Sauté shallots in garlic in the same pan in a little bit of olive oil for five minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes, wine and red pepper flakes. Reduce a minute or two. Add pasta. Toss until combined. Add tomato butter in dollops over pasta. Mix until butter has completely coated pasta. Add veggies, shrimp, and cheese. Add additional pasta water if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
- Tomato Butter:8 tablespoons softened butter, 2 tablespoon tomato paste, ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix ingredients together. Place in place wrap and roll into a log. Chill for at least two hours. Can be stored for up to a month.