We’ve added another baby boy to our family. His name is George, and he’s a five-month-old, sixty-pound Bordeaux mastiff. He’s big, he’s playful, and he’s sweet. Also, he’s nearly impossible to control, so we’ve signed up for puppy training classes. The class is once a week at seven in the evening, which is a pretty annoying commitment given the time of day. It’s around the time we typically eat dinner, which is an issue in itself. If boyfriend doesn’t eat around the same time every day, he turns into a diva. Demanding, aggressive, on edge. His hunger really gets the best of him.
So one evening, about an hour before puppy class, I notice the diva emerging. He’s walking around the kitchen restlessly, snapping at the dogs, opening and closing cabinets. My first mind tells me “don’t cook anything, he’ll be fine until after class”. But I see him angrily chewing on a handful of dry cereal, and come to my senses. I roll my eyes, put on a pot of boiling water, chop some veggies, and in about thirty minutes we have a big, steaming bowl of pasta. Twenty minutes later, we’re in the car on the way to puppy class. The diva has disappeared, and my loving boyfriend is back. Further annoyance diverted.
A quick pasta dish is always my go to for situations like this. Most pasta takes about eight minutes to reach al dente, and throwing together a quick pasta sauce takes only a few more. You can add whatever you have on hand to the pasta, making it unique and great for using up random veggies that might be floating around your fridge. In this case I had shrimp, a can of diced tomatoes, asparagus, and parmesan. Boom.
What You’ll Need:
A package of fettuccine
About a pound of medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
A bunch of asparagus, trimmed
One large onion
Can of diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
Couple of cloves of minced garlic
Couple tablespoons of flour
A cup of milk (have a little more on hand in case the sauce gets a bit thick toward the end)
½ cup of shredded or shaved parmesan
Salt & pepper
Couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter
What To Do:
Put a large stockpot of water on over high heat, and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cooking your pasta in salty water is the key to well-seasoned pasta, and the basis of a well-balanced dish. Allow pot to come to a rolling boil.
While you’re waiting for the pot to come to a boil, prepare your vegetables. Clean, trim, and chop your asparagus into about inch long pieces. Take special care to remove the tough stalks of the asparagus, or roughly the bottom two inches of the vegetable. Throw the chopped asparagus into a deep skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil. You can salt and pepper them in the pan as they cook over medium heat. Seasoning in the pan always makes me feel like a real chef, so I imagine it will do the same for you.
After your asparagus get going, go ahead and dice your onion. Remove the asparagus from the pan once they’re easily pierced with a fork, or cooked to your liking. I typically let them go for about eight minutes, so they’re tender, and a beautiful bright green. Set them aside.
Toss your diced onion into the same pan once the asparagus have been removed. Let them cook down until softened. Your pasta water should’ve come to a boil by now, so go ahead and dump your pasta in, and add another tablespoon of olive oil to the water, to keep the pasta from sticking. From here I employ my standard alfredo sauce recipe, but leave the onions in the pan for good measure. They flavor the sauce nicely.
Add your drained tomatoes to the skillet, right into the simmering sauce, followed by your shrimp (which you can lightly season with salt and pepper before adding). Let the shrimp go for about three minutes, then add the asparagus. Give it another three or so minutes then add your pasta, right into the skillet (another surefire way to feel like a real chef). Toss the pasta around with the sauce, getting everything well combined. Let the entire skillet go for about another five minutes. Voila! Serve in big bowls with a sprinkling of flat leaf parsley and a little shaved parmesan.
- Buy your shrimp peeled and deveined. There’s nothing worse than being in a rush and realizing you have to prepare your shrimp. Your grocer will do if for you if you ask.
- Despite how lengthy the recipe might look, this dish goes really quickly. Be careful to pay close attention to how long your shrimp cooks in the dish. They cook very quickly, and can go from perfectly cooked to tough little shrimp nuggets if you aren’t careful.
- Use a really deep skillet, so you can fit everything in together at the end. If you don’t have a very deep skillet, you can drain the pasta, return it to its pot, pour the sauce over it, and mix it there. Same deal.