Monday, 26 March 2012

What shall we Eat with the Drunken Sailor?

Farfalle con Gamberetti, Aneto, Ricotta, Semi di Girasole Tostate e Sambuca
Farfalle with Shrimp, Dill, Ricotta, Toasted Sunflower Seeds and Sambuca

Well, shiver me timbers! That there be a fine plate of food- even if I do say so myself! And with a full shot of Sambuca, per person, it packs a tasty punch too! It is Springtime at last and time for some fresh flavors and lighter dishes. But they needn't be lightweights in the taste department!

The aniseed flavor of the Sambuca and the fresh dill make for a great combination with the shrimp, lime, garlic and ricotta cheese... and doesn't that just make you think of a  Mediterranean Summer in the nicest possible way?

As you can see, this is a very simple dish, which takes all of 10 minutes to make- just the time it takes to boil the pasta and then to assemble everything on your plate... and that's my kind of meal on a weekday night!

So- let's get busy and let's start by boiling that pasta according to the instructions on the packet- usually 8 minutes. In the meantime, crush and chop and squeeze into a past a clove of garlic- you know how, by sprinkling it with salt and using the flat edge of your knife. I am sure you have seen that done. The coarse structure of the salt crystals grinds the garlic down and it soaks up the juices as you go. We want to use half of the garlic paste to season our ricotta and the other half for the shrimp. So lets start with the ricotta...

Stir the garlic paste, some white pepper, lime juice and a little more salt if necessary into either fresh ricotta or cheese curd and whip together until nice and smooth. There- that was easy, wasn't it?

Another ingredient is toasted sunflower seeds, which I thought would give a nice "bite" and a pleasantly nutty flavor. Also... it made me think of the acres and acres of sunflowers we have "back home" in Sicily... sigh!

Next, the shrimp, which are simply fried at a moderate heat in olive oil, with a little Tabasco for flavoring and the garlic paste we prepared just a few minutes ago. Once this begins to stick to the bottom of your frying pan- and it will, deglaze the pan with a good shot of Sambuca- maybe two- haha! Yes, you can actually quite literally do that as long as you let it reduce down a little- which it does very swiftly. Add only a little salt... the fun thing here is, that the sugar content of the Sambuca will actually caramelize a little and become a wonderful sweet-ish glaze on the shrimp which tastes pretty amazing! 

By now the pasta will be good, so drain it , transfer the shrimp into a small dish for the interim, and stir the pasta through the frying pan to pick up all of the good flavor. Feel free to add a little more olive oil to the pasta if necessary, but I found that swirling it around the frying pan was more than adequate. At this point, I added a finely chopped Spring onion- the heat of the pasta will cook it just enough to take the harshness out of it and make it somewhat milder, though still savory and fresh.

Spoon the pasta into your serving plate and distribute the shrimps and creamy, tangy cheese evenly, along with plenty of fresh dill. Sprinkle generously with chili flakes- of if you have them, as I did with flakes of smoked paprika. Squeeze a few drops of lime onto it and serve with a nice glass of Corvo Bianco... and imagine you are enjoying your meal under the Sicilian sun... or on a pirate ship!

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