As of this moment I’m having a major love affair with Italy — specifically, the Amalfi Coast.
Okay, truth is, I’m always crushing on the Italian beach scene because it’s got such a glam history (see: Sophia Loren seaside in Positano or any beach scene from Talented Mr. Ripley). Yes, Amalfi has a storybook history of Hollywood glam-meets-Italian Riviera, but I’m partial to it because of two things: the views and the food.
I’ll be traveling to Italy this summer searching out the best flavors of the Amalfi Coast, and one thing I cannot wait for is the fresh seafood. Well, that and the pasta. Oh, and the lemons too.The Amalfi lemons might just be the chicest lemon that ever was: the fragrant, delicate, and low acid combo means they’re the perfect flavor for seafood pasta. The local lemons are so legendary that people from the region are known to have serious lemon pride.
So, instead of making you something that’s oh-so traditional, I decided to combine my favorites in this pasta that’s just dreamy if I do say so myself. It’s a light cream sauce with a hint of lemon, tossed with seared shrimp, and a basil puree. Yes, it’s totally indulgent, but it’s still light enough that you can eat it, and then head back to the spiaggia to soak in the southern Italian sun. Enjoy!
plus more for garnish
peeled and sliced paper thin
or another dry sparkling wine
or sour cream
or tagliatelle pasta
For the pistou: Bring a small pot of water to a boil then blanch the basil by quickly dunking it in the water until it’s just wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain immediately then place basil a bowl of ice water. When the basil is cold, squeeze out the excess water then place in a blender along with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, water, 1 garlic clove, and a pinch of salt, and a grind of pepper. Process until super smooth.
Pistou can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.
For the shrimp: Drizzle the shrimp with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil then season with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat the shrimp well. Meanwhile, heat half (about 2 tablespoons) of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Slice the remaining garlic and add it to the pan. As soon as the slices are golden brown, remove them with a spoon and add half of the shrimp (make sure they’re in one layer and aren’t touching in the pan). Cook the shrimp until pink on each side, about 3 minutes total. Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside then repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and remaining shrimp.
For the pasta: Return the pan to the stove and add in the shallots and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the Prosecco and lower the heat to medium-low. As soon as the alcohol smell is cooked off (about 2 minutes), add the cream, crème fraiche, and the lemon peels and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon (if you drag your finger along the back of the spoon it will leave a mark) and is reduced to just over 1 1/2 cups, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Season the sauce with a large pinch of salt, taste, and remove the lemon peels. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of heavily salted water over high heat. When the water is ready, add the tagliatelle and cook just 2 minutes short of the package directions. Save 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the tagliatelle. Return the tagliatelle to the pot and add the pasta sauce and reserved shrimp. Toss to coat, adding the pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce. Taste and add more salt or pepper as desired. Serve topped with a dollop of the pistou, and some lemon zest and basil leaves.
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