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Spaghetti With Shrimp and Basil Sauce

This sauce is so quick to prepare that it can be put together by the time the pasta is cooked. Although it is quick, it is intensely flavored. Hot cherry peppers can be found in the Italian section of supermarkets or in specialty stores.

6 quarts salted water
1 pound medium-size shrimp (about 30)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 bottled hot cherry pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti
18 fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and quartered
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 fresh mint leaves, washed, dried and minced

Bring the salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the shrimp. With a small knife, make a shallow cut down the back of each shrimp to remove the dark vein. Cut the shrimp crosswise in half.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, until the shallots are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the cherry pepper and shrimp, taking care not to crowd the shrimp, or they will steam in their own juices. (If necessary, cook the shrimp in two batches.) Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are bright pink, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Cover the pot and reheat to boiling, stirring once or twice. When the water returns to a boil, uncover the pot. Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente -tender but firm- about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the basil, parsley, mint and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the sauce. Bring to a vigorous boil and continue to boil until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Return the shrimp to the pan until heated through, just a few seconds.

Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot over low heat. Pour three quarters of the sauce over the spaghetti and toss over low heat, mixing well. Transfer the pasta to a warm serving platter or individual bowls. Spoon the remaining sauce over the pasta and serve immediately.

"Lidia's Italian Table"

Thursday, February 03, 2000

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