By M.D. Walters
Plans for a hearty fall dinner with friends usually don’t include bright, lemony shrimp scampi with linguine. But it came as a special request from a friend who admitted she was holding out for one more Chicago summer day. Adding a little spicy heat with the traditional Ina Garten recipe and some seasonal sides makes this simple dish work, even in chilly weather.
Here are a few tips for working with shrimp. Be sure to use the gray, uncooked shrimp and not the white and pink version that has already been cooked. Using raw shrimp and making sure you don’t overcook them ensures you have tender, juicy shrimp for your dish. Look for “large” shrimp, typically labeled as “26/30 per pound.” If you buy shrimp with tails on, the tails are easy to pull off once the shrimp are slightly thawed.
Linguine with Shrimp Scampi (serves four; prep time 25-30 minutes)
Salt & pepper
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2-1/2 Tbsp good olive oil
1-1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
Four servings of linguine (about 1/2 pound dry)*
20-24 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 – 2 tsp dried or chopped fresh parsley leaves
zest grated from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes
*You may use fresh linguine; be sure not to overcook.
- In a large pot of boiling water, add 1 Tbsp of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or according to the directions on the package (if using dry pasta).
- In another (12-inch) pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute and be careful not to let it burn.
- Add shrimp to the pan with the melted butter, olive oil and garlic.
- Add 1-1/2 tsp of salt and the pepper, and sauté the shrimp until they have just turned pink, about 5 minutes or less. Stir often.
- Remove the shrimp from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices and red pepper flakes. Toss.
- Drain the cooked linguine and return to the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well and serve.
Enjoy with a raw Brussels sprout salad and crunchy whole grain artisan bread and a full-bodied Chianti.
Brussels Sprout Salad (serves four; prep time 30 minutes)
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp honey
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 cups Brussels sprouts (larger sprouts are easiest)
1/2 cup finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
- Soak the onion slices in a small bowl of cold water for 15 to 20 minutes while you are putting together the rest of the salad.
- Make a dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Then whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is blended and smooth.
- Trim all of the cleaned Brussels sprouts of any bruised leaves and cut off the hard root ends. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, thinly slice each sprout carefully. Separate the sliced leaves with your fingers and remove any hard stem pieces; it should look like a fine slaw.
- Put the sprouts in a bowl, drain the water from the onions and combine the two vegetables. Add the dressing. Fold in the cheese, add more salt and pepper if desired.
- To pump up the fall flavors, try adding some toasted nuts – chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds, or pine nuts.
And after you’ve feasted on dinner, end with a super-easy fall dessert.
Toasty Apples with Greek Yogurt (serves four; prep time 30 minutes)
2 apples peeled and sliced thin
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup almond slivers
4 single-serve ramekins
Preheat broiler. Toss apples in cinnamon. Sauté sliced apples in butter until soft. Place in four, single-serve ramekins and cover each with vanilla Greek Yogurt. Top with brown sugar and almonds and place under the broiler until they begin to brown.
M.D. Walters is a lover of all things Chicago, a lifelong foodie, and a global culinary explorer.
Photo and video credits: Cynthia Kallile