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This is the best time of year to feast on sweet, fresh shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. This month, readers shared favorite preparations that range from a brilliant three-ingredient, spicy-sweet sauce (my kind of easy, breezy warm-weather cooking) to a delicious chilled shrimp salad that’s perfect for lunch. Whether it’s dinner on a beach (Port A or bust!) or on the back porch, I love the simplicity of shrimp with a buttery, lemony pasta. This recipe relies on a secret ingredient (ground dried shrimp) to elevate the seafood flavor of this simple, satisfying preparation.
2 teaspoons dried shrimp (optional)
1 pound angel hair or linguine, preferably fresh
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch crumbled chile pequin or crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound rock shrimp or other small shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to finish
3 tablespoons cold butter, diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1. Finely grind dried shrimp in a spice mill or with mortar and pestle; set aside for serving.
2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 3 minutes if using fresh pasta, longer if dried. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta liquid.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1–2 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with a pinch of salt and cook, tossing, 1–2 minutes. Add the tarragon, parsley, lemon zest, juice, pasta, 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid and butter, and toss to coat. Cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce is glossy and coats pasta, and shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt if needed.
4. Divide pasta among warmed bowls and top with scallions and reserved dried shrimp.
Another way to “drain” pasta and retain the starches that help pull your sauce together? Use tongs to pull the cooked noodles from their pot and place them directly in your skillet. If you do this, you likely won’t need to add pasta water. Cherry or grape tomatoes (red, yellow or orange), halved and added to the skillet with the shrimp, are a delicious addition to the mix.