I’ve had my share of cooking mishaps over the years, especially when I was first starting out in the kitchen. A certain “tutto mare” made with mostly bottled clam juice comes to mind (it did not taste pleasantly like the sea as I’d intended); as does the time the pork chops went from oven-fried to oven-dried when I forgot to hit the start button on the kitchen timer. But every once in a while, our kitchen mistakes become some of our tastiest, most treasured dishes; and this pasta might just be my favorite time I flopped myself into the winners circle.
I was just getting started in the kitchen and I already had a few Pinterest fails under my belt, I don’t mind telling you. I was, however, determined to get this creamy shrimp pasta I’d read about on the table successfully. That is, until I looked in my grocery bag and realized I’d managed to buy the spicy tomatoes with green chiles included instead of the plain ones called for in the recipe I’d set my heart on. There was no way I’d have time to make it back to the store. I thought the dish was ruined before I’d so much as boiled the water for the pasta.
But I tell you, it was delicious. Like, above average delicious. The heat from the green chiles made the sauce interesting, gave it an earthiness that you wouldn’t get from adding something more traditional, like red chili flakes. I could feel my Figurative Italian Nonna weeping in the corner, but as I ate I realized a couple of things: that I would be making this again and again, and that next time I would make sure not to forget the green chiles — Italian street cred be damned.
Capellini with Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Cream
1 lb dried capellini
1 lb frozen shrimp, medium sized (size 20-25 or 16-20), thawed and peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
2 10 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Place a large, high sided saute pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat another minute or so. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Carefully add the white wine and reduce by half (it will spatter, so take care). Once it’s reduced, add the tomatoes and the cream. Season with salt and pepper and bring up to a simmer. Add the shrimp and poach in the sauce while the pasta cooks.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add a few tablespoons of salt. Add the capellini and cook 5 minutes, until just shy of al dente. Using tongs, transfer the pasta directly from the water to the saucepan, allowing some of the pasta water to transfer also (the starches in the pasta water will help tighten up our sauce). Once all the pasta is added, stir vigorously to combine. Finish with the parsley.
Serves 4-5 as a main course