One of my favorite features of my new apartment is the little herb garden I’ve started in the windowsill. Well, it’s actually a bit generous to even call it a garden, really it’s just three little pots. And while we’re being honest, I should probably confess that I’ve already killed 2 of the 3 plants (rest in peace thyme and oregano). Clearly I don’t have much of a green thumb, at least not yet, but what I do have is a surprisingly healthy basil plant despite my repeated attempts at negligence, so I’ve been trying to use her as much as possible. Last week it was in this amazing summer “pasta” dish, Spicy Shrimp Fra Diavolo served over Zucchini Linguine.
For me, pasta has always been more about the sauce and the toppings than the noodles itself. That’s why I’m so excited when I come up with a noodle like alternative, like spaghetti squash in the fall or shredded zucchini in the summer. For noodle enthusiasts out there (hey, sis) this substitution may not cut it, but for me it’s a perfect way to lighten up a heavy italian dish. Next time I may get a julienne peeler, which makes the zucchini a little thicker and sturdier, but I just used a wide cheese grater for this “linguine”. The sauce was a spicy mix of tomatoes, white wine, garlic, herbs, and of course, chili flakes. Simply sauteed shrimp topped it off and this meal took well under an hour start to finish.
Nutritional Highlights: A cup of cooked linguine would have 220 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates, whereas a cup of zucchini has only about 20 calories and 4 carbohydrates. Just a tiny difference there, right? By making your own sauce, you know that there isn’t a ton of added salt and sugar like a lot of store bought sauces have. Shrimp is a great low cal protein source as well, but be careful with shellfish if you have high cholesterol (but as long and you’re careful with portion size, you should be OK). Overall this meal is incredibly healthy and well balanced, and perfect for a quick summer meal.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
adapated from Giada DeLaurentis
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined (I used wild frozen shrimp)
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons
1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
4 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute, until fragrant. Then add tomatoes with their juices, wine, oregano, and half of the basil. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10-15 minutes. Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.
For Zucchini Pasta: Use about 1 large Zucchini per person. Shred the zucchini into pasta strands, it seems like a julienne peeler gets the best results, but you can also use a cheese grater. Right before serving, heat a saute pan over medium, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, and add your zucchini. Saute for 2 minutes just until it has softened slightly, season with salt and pepper, and top with your favorite sauce and toppings (like this shrimp fra diavolo! Enjoy!