Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Scampi al Dragoncello and Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

I'm coming at you from a foreign kitchen this time. I enjoyed a very rare break and spent the weekend visiting friends in Columbia, MO. These recipes came from a cookbook my friend Cathy's client loaned her upon hearing that her visiting friend was a vegetarian. I know with my lentil soup post I promised to stop sharing recipes that aren't diet friendly, and truthfully this one isn't too bad. The pasta is quite healthy, and a little goat cheese never hurt anyone :) However, back to the culinary fun the night before: after contemplating canned vs. fresh tomatoes that were required for the vegetarian recipes, we decided that these shrimp looked entirely too delicious to pass up.

I've used lemons and limes to flavor my fish in the past but I never thought to make a citrus-based sauce for pasta. The shrimp can be served on their own, at which point I would recommend buying the very large shrimp, but we decided to serve them over angel hair pasta and use the remainder of the marinade as a sauce, which was surprising and fantastic! This recipe will probably make a come-back during the summer, as the citrus helped lighten up the pasta significantly, which will eventually be perfect for those warm summer nights.

A few adaptations: the Scampi al Dragoncello calls for 24 shrimp, however we bought a full pound of fresh medium-sized shrimp because we were putting them over pasta, rather than making them the center of the meal. Also, the stuffed peppers are theoretically an appetizer, but we used the as a side dish. It worked perfectly, time-wise, to make the shrimp marinade first and then make the peppers while the shrimp marinaded. The jar we bought had large pieces of roasted red peppers, which was the closest to piquillo peppers we could find, so I spooned the cheese over them for broiling and then folded them back onto themselves. Both of these recipes were found in Cristina's Tuscan Table.

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Goat Cheese, makes 18

18 roasted (canned or fresh) piquillo peppers
11 oz goat cheese
¼ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup milk
2 Tbs fresh oregano
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat broiler
2. Drain and set liquid of peppers aside if using the canned variety.
3. In a food processor with the blade attachment, mix goat cheese, cream cheese and milk until creamy – about 1 minutes.
4. Stir in the oregano, pine nuts, salt and pepper by hand.
5. Place mixture in a pasty bag (or, ya know, a ziplock with the tip cut off) and gently distribute the filling into the peppers.
6. Place stuffed piquillos on a baking sheet and broil until hot and crispy, about 5 minutes.

Scampi al Dragoncello
*supposedly serves 8, but if putting over pasta for dinner, 3-4 servings is more realistic

24 large shrimp, cleaned and deveined, tails on
¼ cupe extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tbs for frying
juice and zest of 2 oragnes
juice and zest of ½ lemon
2 Tbs fresh tarragon leaves
1 tsp crushed garlic
¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 Tbs chopped Italian parsley
*springs of terragon and few orange slices for garnish, if desired

1. Combine shrimp, ¼ c olive oil, juice and zest of lemon and oranges, tarragon, garlic, red pepper flakes and parsley in a bowl. Refridgerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. In a skillet, heat 2 Tbs olive oil and cook shrimp on high heat for 3-5 minutes, adding splash of marinade to keep them moist.
*We added the entire marinade to the pan and used it as a sauce
3. Serve hot, over pasta or rice if desired
*Garnish with tarragon sprigs and orange slices

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