A great (read: not great) trait of mine is never leaving well enough alone. Is Alfredo sauce delicious? Absolutely. Is Green Goddess dressing fantastic on its own? Inarguably. Are the simple textures of well-cooked pasta and a well-executed cream sauce enough to satisfy even the most hardened critic? They are. But why stop at well enough when there could be something even more well enough? Something that offers more intricate flavors and dissimilar textures while keeping you on your toes. Something that accomplishes all those feats yet comes together in less time than takeout.
Flavors of bright herbs, buttery cream, sharp parmesan, sunny lemon, toasted almonds, and sweet shrimp. Textures of al dente pasta, smooth cream, and crunchy almond-roasted shrimp with pops of red pepper flakes and soft arugula.
In a blender
1 1/2 cups (340g) heavy cream
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup packed basil
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/3 cup parsley
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cracked pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
In a small food processor
1/2 cup (71g) whole almonds
1/2 cup (56g) of good bread crumbs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large saucepan
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Hanging out on the sidelines
3/4 cup (75g) grated parmesan
1/2 pound (227g) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 eggs, beaten in a small bowl
Handful of arugula
Red pepper flakes, optional
Start by making the shrimp. Beat an egg in a small bowl and set aside. In a small food processor, pulse the almonds into medium-sized bits. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper, and pulse until the mixture comes together. Move the mixture to a bowl.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Working the shrimp one at a time, dunk each one into the beaten eggs and then into the almond mixture to coat. Flip the shrimp once or twice in the almond mixture and lightly press the coating around the shrimp. Place the shrimp on the prepared pan while you repeat the steps with the remaining shrimp. Once all the shrimp are ready, sprinkle them with olive oil.
Roast the shrimp until the tails are pink, and the coating is golden brown- about 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool while you prepare the pasta.
Blend the sauce ingredients- from the basil to the lemon zest- until the herbs are broken down into tiny bits, and the color is a beautiful vibrant green. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, stir the grated garlic and olive oil together. Set the pot over medium heat and barely brown the garlic. Once the garlic is golden, slowly whisk in the herby cream and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, slowly whisk in the grated parmesan cheese. Continue whisking until the sauce is thick and creamy, and turn off the heat.
Fill a large pot with water, season heavily with salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Turn off the burner and transfer the cooked pasta from the large pot to the sauce in the large saucepan using tongs.
Toss the pasta in the sauce and slowly add some of the cooking water from the large pot to bring the sauce together and help the pasta and sauce get to know one another. You'll probably use between 1/4 and 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. We want the sauce the remain thick and creamy, so don't add so much that it starts to thin.
Portion the pasta into heaping green mountains and top with the almond shrimp. A good shower of parmesan, a sprinkle of red chili flakes, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon are all highly recommended accessories.