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Orecchiette with Shrimp in Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
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30 Sep 2010 EST

- by Jessica Verderame, Senior Staff Writer

My ultimate comfort food is a huge bowl of pasta with some kind of creamy sauce. In this dish, I puree sundried tomatoes with cream and a touch of ricotta for extra flavor and slight tang; the ricotta also helps thicken the sauce, but to cut back the richness I used half & half and part skim ricotta. The result resembles a light tomato cream sauce, but the additional flavor given by the sundried tomatoes takes it to another level. The addition of shrimp makes this more filling, while the spinach makes me feel slightly better about eating a cream and carb-laden dinner.

While using fresh shrimp would make this dish better, I always keep frozen shrimp on hand for last minute dishes I put together, like this. It’s great for guests, when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen but still want to put together a delicious, impressive meal, and for weeknight dinners when you don’t want to spend the whole evening cooking and cleaning. Not a shrimp lover? Sub diced chicken breasts instead.

Orecchiette with Shrimp in Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

Ingredients - Serves 4-6:

1 lb orecchiette pasta

1 tbsp olive oil, reserved from jar of sun dried tomatoes

½ lb medium shrimp, thawed if frozen

Zest of one lemon

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 large cloves garlic, minced

½ cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, roughly chopped

½ cup half & half

1-2 tablespoons ricotta

8 oz spinach, coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted, boiling water. Drain, reserving  ½ cup cooking water.

2.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add in lemon zest, and allow to infuse for a few seconds. Then, add in shrimp and cook about 1-2 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. Remove shrimp to a plate

3.  Reduce heat to medium, and add garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and sauté for 1 minute. Add in sun dried tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes, then pour in half and half and allow to simmer for two minutes.

4.  Blend the sauce until smooth in a blender or with an immersion blender. Add sauce back to pan and add in 1 tbsp of ricotta, adding more if needed or to taste.

5.  Add spinach into the sauce and cook until slightly wilted. Toss sauce with pasta and shrimp. Add in some of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed to loosen sauce. Serve immediately.

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