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Countdown to Dinner: Garlicky sauce crowns luscious shrimp pasta

Thursday, November 01, 2001

By Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Today's Countdown winner is another A-plus for inventive cook Kurt Karafinski of Glenshaw, who devised Shrimp with Garlic Cream Sauce for his wife, Debby.


"She loves shrimp and pasta. We both love garlic," he said, "so I fooled around with different combinations until I found a creamy garlic sauce that was just right."

Parmesan is the key thickening ingredient. "One-half cup is just right," he said. "One fourth isn't enough to make it creamy, three-fourths is too much."

A 2-pound bag of frozen, cooked shrimp is a staple at the Karafinski home and a handful or two goes into many meals that he makes.

A senior systems analyst for Eckerd Health Services in O'Hara, Kurt enjoys being in the kitchen and does the bulk of the cooking for his family, which includes his wife, who also works at Eckerd, and his son, Christopher, almost 4.

Since today's recipe is both quick and flavorful, he makes it for regular weekday dinners with a green salad and BreadWorks bread. But he recommends it for special occasions, too.

"It's very simple, yet has a touch of elegance that shrimp always adds to a dish," he said. "It can be made after the children are put to bed with some lit candles for a little 'stolen' moment of romance."

We whipped it up for visiting cousins from San Diego the night before a whirlwind one-day sightseeing tour of Pittsburgh on the last 83-degree day of 2001.

Doubling the recipe and adding two finely chopped roasted red peppers for color, we poured the shrimpy sauce over linguine (Kurt prefers angel hair) and stored it in the fridge, covered, overnight.

We also made asparagus with lemon butter and a mixture of baked acorn squash and Granny Smith apples, drizzled with maple syrup and topped with toasted pecans.

After a walking tour of Downtown -- PPG Place, across the bridge to PNC Park, down the road to Heinz Field -- and a ride on the Monongahela Incline with a stroll around Mount Washington, appetites were at their peak.

The cousins were wowed by the entree (and grateful for the speedy delivery to the table), and we sat far into the evening, swapping stories, drinking wine and finishing every scrap of Shrimp with Creamy Garlic Sauce.

Kurt is a big fan of Chris Fennimore's WQED cooking show and would love to be a guest. At the rate he's honing his culinary skills (Mock Crab Cakes was also his recipe), he may have his own show someday.

Shrimp With Garlic Cream Sauce

8 ounces angel hair pasta
12 large shrimp or 24 medium shrimp
3 tablespoons jarred minced garlic
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare pasta according to the instructions.

While pasta water comes to a boil, heat the oil, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in the cream (we used half and half) and bring to a simmer. Cook until the cream begins to thicken. Stir in parsley, Parmesan cheese and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is heated through. Pour over cooked pasta, toss and serve.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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