I've been craving seafood lately. Maybe it's the fact that summer is ending and I want to soak up those last warm months. There's something that feels beachy and summery about eating good seafood, right? I've also been back to the east coast twice in the past two weeks... And there's nothing in the Midwest that quite compares to the fresh fish you can get back east.
Whatever the reason is, I suppose there are worse things I could be craving. So for a recent Sunday dinner at home I decided to give in and make a fancy seafood dinner for Alex and me. His only request was that the meal involve pasta-- as his requests so often do. And with that in mind, I decided to make a dish that was layered with flavor: bright, sweet, earthy, and spicy... And this dish was all of those things.
I marinated shrimp in one of my favorite quick all purpose seafood marinades: a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, Old Bay Seasoning, salt, and pepper. This marinade has great flavor and compliments a variety of seafood dishes and flavor profiles. That shrimp is then plated on a bed of spaghetti with a quick sauté of tomatoes and shallots in reduced white wine.
You could stop right here and have a beautiful flavorful meal, but the next step is what really sets this dish apart: a spicy lemony breadcrumb topping. These are not your ordinary breadcrumbs... They are toasted in butter and combined with tart lemon, spicy Calabrian chiles, and fresh basil, lending amazing flavor and a perfect crunchy texture to top off this plate of pasta.
While there are several steps to this recipe, it's actually very easy to prepare. What I love about it though, is that it's a really impressive and different dish-- perfect for date night at home or for wowing guests at a dinner party.
- 6 oz. spaghetti
- 1/2 lb. Shrimp
- Juice of 2 lemons, divided
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. dry parsley flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Calabrian chile or red jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced into rings
- 5-6 basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup shallots, thinly sliced
- 10 oz. grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine shrimp, 1/4 of the lemon juice, 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper. Marinate for 15 minutes.
Preheat grill to high heat. Thread shrimp on to prepared skewers and grill for roughly 2 minutes per side, until shrimp is pink and curled. Remove from heat and when cool enough to handle, pull shrimp off the skewers.
Heat butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil over medium high heat. Add breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley and garlic to the pan. Sauté for 5 minute, stirring frequently so that the crumbs do not burn. Add the chile slices and sauté for another 5 minutes, until crumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 of the lemon juice and the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Separately, heat the remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the shallots begin to soften. Add tomatoes, wine, red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook for 10 more minutes, until liquid has thickened and reduced. Remove from heat and stir in remaining lemon juice.
To plate: add spaghetti to a large bowl. Pour tomato mixture over the top. Arrange shrimp on top and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.