I like a show, “The Kitchen” on Food Network. I’m not usually a cooking show type of guy, but…..oh who am I kidding? I def am. I love to eat. I look forward to every single meal I eat as if it’s the last meal I will ever have. The reason I found this show is really for my man, Jeff Mauro. His original show was the “Sandwich King” which was all about making sandwiches, one of my favorite meals. So from time to time I will grab bagels and coffee, and my wife and I will watch The Kitchen on Saturday mornings. This recipe was one of Geoffrey Zakarian’s, (Lamb’s Club, NYC) and one I thought would be a nice, easy dinner on a weeknight. It only requires a few ingredients, most things you can get at basic grocers and nothing you’d need from a specialty store, and takes about 45 minutes.
Ziti – 16 oz bag/box
San Marzano Tomatoes – (2x) 15 oz cans
Cooked/Peeled Frozen Shrimp – 15 to 18
Shredded Romano Cheese
Basil (Fresh or Dried)
Red Pepper Flakes
Get a medium pot to boil the water for the pasta. I usually add a splash of olive oil into the water instead of salt. I don’t think it does anything different, but it still rids the pasta of some of the starch. You will also need a saucepan to dump the pasta into once it is ready. It doesn’t have to be a cast iron like I used, but it should be big enough to house the pasta and the sauce. Bring the water in the pot to a boil and dump the pasta in while you work on step two.
Add a tablespoon and a half of the chopped garlic to the saucepan and coat the bottom in olive oil. I always use a bit more garlic when using pre-chopped because it doesn’t have the flavor of fresh garlic, and let’s be honest, this dinner is meant to be done quick. Plus, you won’t be adding a ton of other seasonings to the sauce, so better to use the garlic and oil. Heat the pan until the garlic simmers in the oil. Stir a bit to cover the bottom of the pan. Brown, but don’t burn. You will know what burned garlic tastes like if you do it…
In a mixing bowl, empty both cans of the tomatoes completely. Using an immersion blender, start to mix up and break apart the tomatoes until pureed. You can also do this entire thing in a processor, but that’s a bitch to clean up. Add some of the red pepper flakes and a handful of the Romano cheese. Set aside.
While the garlic is simmering and pasta is finishing up, defrost, clean and peel the shrimp. I typically just dump them in a pasta strainer and put hot water from the faucet on them, but whatever floats your boat. At this point, you can choose to leave them as it, or butterfly the shrimp. I like butterflying them as it makes them look bigger and cover more space. Also, it’s pretty fancy so that’s an added bonus. All you need to do is take a paring knife and make a clean slice at the head of the shrimp until you can peel it open and make it look like the letter “T”. Boom, butterfly shrimp.
Once the garlic is browned, add the pureed tomatoes to the saucepan and lower the heat only a bit. It should still simmer but not bubble and cover your kitchen in sauce. Mix initially to mix in the garlic and cover. The sauce should thicken with the heat.
Drain the pasta when completed, and set aside.
Continually check the sauce until it starts to thicken more. When it’s a little thicker and you can start to feel it, add the shrimp and dump back in the pasta. You can also add in a shake of parmesan cheese and two tablespoons of butter. Then mix and cover again for about 10 minutes, occasionally checking sauce thickness and mixing.
That’s pretty much it! Once the sauce starts to coat the pasta, bring the entire dish to the table for serving. The last step is to dump on another handful of Romano cheese and sprinkle with the basil. Since it is still hot you should be able to watch the cheese melt instantly as it touches the pasta.