Monday, April 27, 2009

Lunch Week 7: Shrimp Pasta Salad

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Shrimp Pasta Salad The weather is warming up and I wanted something more summery. Seafood comes to mind. Shrimp specifically. I wanted to eat something cold but I didn't want to just have shrimp cocktail all week. Then it dawned on my to make a simple pasta salad. I'll be able to add some needed vegetables.
The ingredients (from left to right): shrimp, whole wheat pasta, pine nuts, arugula, onion, garlic, lemon, and roasted red peppers.
This dish starts with a pot of boiling water. Add salt and oil. Then add pasta. I like to use whole wheat pasta. Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes or so. Easy enough. While the pasta cooks, marinate the shrimp. I had bought frozen deveined shrimp with the tail on. They are fairly large. You can get about 30 in one pound. I marinate them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oil, anchovy paste, tomato paste, paprika, and chili flakes. You want to heavily season the shrimp because it need to stand out in this dish. I saute the shrimp in a skillet over high heat and olive oil. They cook very quickly so keep stirring them around so they cook evenly. Once they turn pink and curl up, they're done. Remember, they keep on cooking even after you turn the stove off. I drain the pasta and add it to a large bowl. Then I add the shrimp. I mix well until everything is incorporated. If the pasta is very starchy and starts to stick, you can add some olive oil. While that is cooling, I cut up some roasted red peppers into strips and minced some onion. I add the peppers and arugula to the pasta mixture. The heat from the pasta will wilt the leafy greens which is what I wanted. It's easier to manage in this recipe. I wanted a pasta salad and not a salad with pasta. I also add a handful of pine nuts for flavor and texture. Lastly, add the vinaigrette. You use a bottled kind but I wanted some freshness so I made my own. A vinaigrette is very easy to make. The two most important components are vinegar and oil. This week, I use lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. As convenient it is to use a bottled lemon juice, it just doesn't taste the same to me. I am a stickler for fresh juice. To this, I also add minced garlic, salt, pepper, and a small amount of honey to cut the sourness. Always taste your vinaigrette before you add it to your dish. You never know if it needs to be tweaked. I add the vinaigrette to the pasta salad and mix thoroughly. I take a taste and it's good. The shrimp is still very prominent. The pasta still has a bite to it. The roasted reds are tangy. The arugula is peppery and slightly bitter. And the onions add a small kick. And everything is wrapped up in a lemony sauce. Just the lunch I needed this week. Light yet filling.

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