Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca

It happened! We won a recipe contest! Well, sorta. We won first place in the main dish category (there were five categories), but we didn't land the big, glorious grand prize trip to Italy complete with a truffle hunt and helicopter tour of the countryside. Super sad face. But I'd probably be more disappointed about missing out on the grand prize if it wasn't our first ever recipe contest victory! Hurray for us! I honestly felt like we missed the boat on this one; while the recipe is delicious and the image is impressive, I wasn't sure it was creative or unique enough to beat out all the other great entries. But, I'm glad I was proven wrong because we now we have a KitchenAid stand mixer in "shimmering champagne gold" on the way and a years supply of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to boot. I'm already brainstorming what I can whip up in that mixer and Noah is has made a list of what kind of attachments we "need". My vote is for the grain mill so we can make our own flours (for pasta!) and maybe the meat grinder/sausage stuffer so we can experiment with homemade meaty things. Mmmmmm... I've decided that I need to figure out how to make a living as a full time recipe developer because as you may have noticed I spend the majority of the day dreaming up recipe ideas. My bookcase is 90% filled with cookbooks and bon appetit magazines and our pantry/fridge looks far more like a commercial kitchen (read: containers full of experiments and sauces) than a "normal" person's pantry/fridge. The idea of waking up in the morning and drinking a cup of coffee while planning out which recipes I want to work on that day is simply glorious... Or which recipe contests I want to enter.... Or which blog post I need to write... Someday soon I hope. Ok, enough chitchat, I'm sure you're all dying to know what the winning dish is. So, without further ado, the victorious recipe!!


//Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca// Serves 4-6
I used heirloom tomatoes here and they were so delicious - sweet, juicy, and beautifully colored. If heirlooms are not available, any firm tomato will do, really. Try to choose locally grown, though, because if they travel up from Mexico they're likely to be bland and lackluster. This would also make a great vegetarian dish minus the shrimp and bacon. Instead, try tempeh or throw in some white beans for a bit of protein. 

Shrimp:
½ lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chives or green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon for sautéing

Pasta Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium shallots or 3 small yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs tomatoes, diced
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons capers
1/3 cup nicoise (black) olives + 1 tablespoon olive brine
½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1 ½ tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme or 1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
16 oz linguini or spaghetti noodles
1 tablespoon salt
drizzle of olive oil
1/3 pound bacon, cooked until crispy, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan

Instructions:
1. Place the shrimp, 2 cloves of minced garlic, lemon juice, chives, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small bowl and let marinate for 20-30 minutes

2. To make the puttanesca sauce, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes

3. Add tomatoes to onions and continue to cook over low-medium heat until tomatoes start to break down and juices are released, about 5 minutes

4. Add the white wine, capers, olives, brine, artichoke hearts, fresh or dried herbs, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Turn heat to low and simmer until sauce is reduced and thick, about 15-20 minutes (maybe more depending on how juicy your tomatoes are)

5. While the sauce is simmering, prepare the shrimp. Gently heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat, then add the shrimp and marinade. Cook for 1 minute on each side or until the shrimp are bright red and the tails have curled in. Turn off heat and add shrimp plus juices to the pasta sauce

6. To cook the pasta, bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and drizzle of olive oil. Cook the noodles until al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Drain.

7. Serve pasta and sauce topped with chopped bacon and parmesan. Enjoy!