Tag Archives: shrimp

Romesco-inspired Shrimp Pasta and a Contest

19 Mar

I don’t usually get too excited about jarred or packaged food products. That’s not to say we don’t use them in our kitchen. As much as I’d always like to make my own pesto, or cook and puree my own tomatoes for sauce, the logistics of finding the time and the fresh ingredients needed for these things is not always possible. And so, we keep some jarred, tinned or otherwise packaged products on hand in our kitchen out of pure necessity. Once in a while, we’ve been so happy with the taste and versatility of these kinds of ingredients that we’ve written about them here.

When our friend Mary Luz Mejia of Sizzling Communications mentioned a couple weeks ago that Food Network celeb Christine Cushing was adding a new product to her line of food items and that she could get us a sample to try, I was initially reluctant. In this case, that reluctance came mostly from knowing what the product was – roasted peppers in a jar. I’ve had jarred roasted peppers many times before, and they’re fine in a pinch but generally all taste the same. Usually they’re marinated and packed in a ton of oil so they keep longer, which strips out a lot of the roasted flavour of the peppers.

Christine Cushing's Latest Discovery

But when I read that this version contained only fire-roasted and slow cooked red Shepherd peppers “a splash” of Greek extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and sea salt, I was intrigued enough to agree to try a jar. Frankly, I’m really happy I did. There’s really no way I can write this without sounding like I’m being paid to shill for Christine Cushing (trust me, I’m not), but I was a little bit blown away when I first tasted the product, straight off a spoon. The jar is full of roasted and cooked down peppers – almost the consistency of a puree or spread – and really only contains a splash of oil, so that it’s barely detectable. The flavour of fire-roasted peppers really comes through, and there’s no garlic or anything else in there to distract from that taste.

Right now, as the photo above suggests, Christine doesn’t have a name for this product, and she’s looking for one. You can suggest a name on ChristineCushing.com between now and March 31. The name Christine chooses from all entries will end up on the label, and the person who suggested the name will win a year’s supply of Christine Cushing’s Greek extra virgin olive oil, pasta sauces, her “latest discovery” red peppers, and her cookbooks signed personally for the winner.

When Jenny tasted these peppers, her first thought was, “I could probably just eat this entire jar on its own, with a spoon.” Her second thought was that they would be great in a pasta inspired by Spain’s famous romesco sauce, which traditionally includes small sweet red peppers called ñora, nuts, stale bread (or toast) to provide bulk, garlic, olive oil and sometimes tomato. It’s often served with seafood. We ran with this idea and created a pasta that combined the sweet and earthy flavour of the peppers with sweet shrimps, peppery arugula and the crunch of toasted almonds. It came together quickly and easily, and tasted fresh and amazing.

Shrimp and arugula cooking

Romesco-inspired Pasta with Shrimp and Arugula

1 jar of Christine Cushing’s red peppers
1 large handful of slivered almonds
A couple of handfuls of arugula
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 TBS red wine vinegar
A pinch of cayenne
12 medium-sized (21-30 count) shrimp

Toast almonds in a dry pan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until brown and fragrant-smelling. Set aside in a bowl.

Cook pasta – short noodles work best with this sauce, but long would be fine too – and drain, but don’t shake off too much water (it’ll help the sauce come together later).

Peel shrimp, and add to a pan on medium heat with a splash of olive oil, pinch of cayenne and minced garlic. Cook a couple minutes per side until garlic begins to release its scent and shrimp start to change colour. Add red wine vinegar and stir for a few seconds.

Lower heat to medium-low. Stir in jarred red peppers; we ended up using about 2/3 of the jar we had (after eating the other 1/3 on a spoon). Add handfuls of arugula, stirring as you add it in. The arugula will wilt down like spinach, so continue adding handfuls until you end up with an amount of wilted greens that you’re happy with; we used about half of a medium-sized container of arugula.

Add drained pasta and toasted almonds, toss everything together and plate. To up the Spanish-inspired quotient a bit more, I finished each plate of pasta with some grated aged Manchego cheese and a drizzle of good Spanish olive oil.

Peppers jar

Quinoa Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach, Shrimp and Preserved Lemon

3 Nov

I’ve wanted to try quinoa pasta for a long time and finally found it locally yesterday at Better Bulk in the east end in Toronto. I’ve been feeling under the weather lately and recently discovered that my iron levels are low, so I’ve been trying to eat lots of veggies and fruit that are high in iron and vitamin C.

And that’s what lead to me to cook up this awesome, flavorful dish.

I wanted to make something with the quinoa pasta that included a good protein, vitamin-rich vegetables and some citrus. Iron is better absorbed with the addition of vitamin C, and broccoli and spinach naturally have both. And I knew I wanted a lemon-ey kick and remembered that I had some leftover preserved lemon slices from this amazing salad that I made a few days ago (which by the way, is incredibly time consuming but fully worth it).

It came together beautifully. The quinoa pasta was delicious and even closer in texture to real pasta than rice pasta. The brand I bought, GoGo Quinoa, uses a blend of organic rice flour and quinoa flour. It’s gluten free and high in protein, fiber and iron. I was afraid that it might have that slightly bitter taste that quinoa usually has and that Neil hates, but it tasted clean and neutral which meant the ingredients in the dish really came through. Best of all, I didn’t feel disgustingly full and weighed down, like I normally do after a big bowl of regular pasta.

The preserved lemons are SO worth the effort. And to be honest, it didn’t take much effort at all. You can make a batch and throw them into all kinds of dishes. They kind of brighten up a dish, not just in appearance, but in flavor too. They’re packed with intense lemony goodness and almost explode in your mouth with every bite.

Have you guessed yet that quinoa is one of my favorite foods? I just love that it’s so good for you, so perfectly balanced, so versatile, and tastes great. Neil’s still on the fence, but I think he may be coming around… Or at least, the more I force feed it to him, the more he seems to enjoy it. Either way, there were no complaints with this delicious and healthful meal.

Quinoa Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach, Shrimp and Preserved Lemon

1 large shallot, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 bunch broccoli cut into small pieces (including pieces of trunk, cut into rounds)

Big handfuls of fresh spinach

Fresh or frozen shrimp

Olive Oil

White Wine

Fresh lemon juice

Chili flakes

‘Quick-Preserved’ lemon slices, chopped (*recipe below)

Parsley, chopped (Parsley is also high in Vitamin C and Iron, and a much needed ‘finisher’ to most pasta dishes anyway!)

Parmesan Cheese to grate on top

Quinoa Pasta, cooked al dente and drained, but with a bit of water still reserved.

Sauté shrimp in a large hot pan with a little bit of olive oil, until cooked through. Be careful not to over-cook them. Transfer them to a plate.

In the same pan, add a good amount of olive oil and sauté garlic and shallot for a few minutes. Add the broccoli and some chili flakes and sauté for a few more minutes. Add a bit of white wine to the pan and simmer off the alcohol. Add a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon) and the fresh spinach. Sautee until the spinach is wilted.

Add back in the cooked shrimp and mix. Add your cooked quinoa pasta right into the pan (it should be wet with a bit of the water it cooked in). Mix well and season with salt and pepper and a bit more lemon juice and/or olive oil, to taste. Mix in the chopped preserved lemon slices.

Plate the pasta in large bowls and top with a good amount of chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Quick-Preserved Lemon (from Epicurious/Bon Appetit)

1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

4 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Mix lemon slices, lemon juice, and coarse sea salt in small skillet. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cool. Using a sharp knife, cut slices in half, then cut pulp away from peel; discard pulp.

If you make these ahead of using them and want to store them in the fridge, keep the liquid and store the lemon peel slices in the fridge in an airtight container covered in the liquid until you’re ready to use them. Before adding them to a dish, rinse the liquid off.








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