by Vicki James
Pasta Shells with Shrimp and Garlicky Bread Crumbs
I stumbled upon this gem of a recipe from Food and Wine last summer, made it a few times and loved it. Now that our grocery shelves are void of romaine lettuce, we have to satisfy our Caesar Salad cravings another way. I think this yummy pasta does the trick. It’s like a Caesar pasta salad and uses torn endive, so no scary Romaine sneaks into this dish. But what really make this recipe so incredibly delicious are the garlicky bread crumbs. PLEASE don’t be tempted to skip them. They absolutely make the dish. Some people have even been known to stand over the stove with a spoon scaping up every luscious garlicky morsel of the leftover crumbs. Of course, I don’t know any people like that personally. No way. (Quick, hide the spoon!).
2 tablespoons plus ½ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups fresh bread crumbs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper
¾ pound medium pasta shells
1 pound large shrimp, shelled and halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
¾ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 ounces curly endive (about 2 ½ cups)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (the good stuff – not the kind that comes in a plastic cannister, God forbid.)
In a medium non-stick frying pan, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat. Add the bread crumbs, garlic, about 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper (or do what I do and just eyeball it). I actually use a small cast iron skillet and have had no problem with the crumbs sticking. Cook the crumbs, stirring frequently until golden, about 5 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta shells until almost done (about 10 minutes). Add the shrimp to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally 2 to 3 minutes longer. Drain thoroughly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy paste and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the remaining ½ cup oil slowly, whisking until emulsified.
Add the pasta, the shrimp, the curly endive and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and toss. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature, topped with the bread crumbs and the remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan. If you are preparing bowls in individual portions, be skimpy with the breadcrumbs, until you get to your bowl, then have your hand accidently slip somehow so that most of the crumbs get on your own serving. “Whoops! Sorry everyone! How did that happen? I accidently got most of the golden delectable garlickily bread crumbs on my plate!”
Come to think of it, you might want to make extra crumbs next time.
Recipe serves 4.