Monday, November 18, 2013

Greek-ish Pasta

Sometimes, when I get something stuck in my head, I just can't shake it. This is especially true of recipes. I'll come up with a combination of ingredients and obsess over it until I can get into the kitchen and create the dish.

Things don't always work out the way I plan.

My original concept for this dish involved ground lamb. I figured I could pick some up at Weis on our regular grocery day, but they didn't have any ground lamb in stock. I visited the local Giant, which has had ground lamb in the past, and found no lamb of any kind. Poo. I didn't want to drive all over town looking for one product, so I made a substitution. My dish was inspired by the flavors of Greece, and Greeks eat shrimp, which also goes well with feta and garlic and pasta and all the other good stuff I planned to use. So I bought a pound of shrimp.

Overall the dish was pretty good, but I still want to try it with ground lamb someday.

Greek Shrimp Pasta

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
1 pound pasta of your choice
1 cup chopped onion
olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch red pepper flakes
1 cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced into crescent moons
2 tablespoons finely minced dill (divided use)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
chopped toasted walnuts
finely chopped mint
lemon juice

Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a saucepot. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring, until they turn pink. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, pressing down on shells to extract flavor. Remove from heat and strain out the solids. Season with a pinch of salt. Refrigerate stock until ready to use.

Cook the pasta al dente in well-salted water, according to package directions. Drain, reserving a little of the pasta water for the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat, add bit of olive oil, the onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook until onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Add the cucumbers and cook for about three minutes. Stir in one tablespoon of the dill.

In a bowl, combine the remaining dill, feta cheese, and yogurt.

Add the shrimp to the skillet. Cook until just pink. Pour in about half a cup of the shrimp stock. Add the pasta and toss to coat, adding pasta water if the mixture seems dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Serve pasta in bowls with a dollop of the yogurt sauce. Garnish with chopped walnuts and mint and squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top.

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