A Quick, Easy and Inexpensive Mid-Week Meal: Shrimp, Caper & Red Onion Topped Penne on Arugula
When I was a kid, shrimp were luxury items. We had them on special occasions like New Year’s Eve or when watching the Grey Cup. Since then, the price of shrimp has come down A LOT. They’re still not as cheap as chips (that reminds me, they taste super-darned good alongside chips!) but if paired with inexpensive items, like canned tomatoes below, they make for a reasonably priced quick and easy mid-week dinner. So much so that they’ve become a staple in my freezer; There’s always a bag of Medium-Sized Peeled and Deveined Shrimp chilling out next to the chicken breasts, waiting for when I’ve had a crazy day and want dinner ready lickety split.
This recipe certainly does the trick for mid-week: Quick, easy, tasty and adaptable to different preferences in the family and to the ingredients you have on hand.
Shrimp, Caper and Red Onion Topped Penne on Arugula
This is a very basic recipe that you can adapt to your own preferences. The base is the garlicky, lightly spiced tomato sauce with shrimp, which works wonderfully on a bed of penne and arugula (spinach works here too). The capers and red onion are sprinkled on at the table meaning that individuals can choose to omit the capers and/or the onion if they’re not fans. You could alternately or additionally provide some chopped parsley mixed with grated lemon rind or some chopped red peppers, chopped sundried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil), spring onions, chives, etc..
- 1-1lb box of penne pasta (you’ll have some leftover pasta but no worries. Check out the recipe for Browned Butter Penne Frittata given in my February Meal Plan under Thursday February 9th)
- 3/4 lb medium-large frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined, with or without the tail (You want 6-8 shrimp per person so look for 36-40 count shrimp here, meaning there are 36-40 in a pound.)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp (or more to your own internal heat-sensor) crushed red pepper flaces
- 1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes (petite diced are nice here but aren’t essential) with their juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
- 8 handfuls of arugula, 4-6 ounces
- 4 tbsp drained capers
- 4 tbsp minced red onion
- Boil penne according to package directions. If the pasta is ready before the sauce, drain it, toss it with a few drops of olive oil and then return it to it’s pot. Cover to keep warm.
- Place the frozen shrimp in a large bowl. Put the bowl in the sink and fill it with water. Allow water to continue to trickle from the tap and over the shrimp until they’re fully defrosted (about 10 minutes).
- Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic. In a large skillet stir the garlic together with the oil and red pepper flakes. Warm it on the stove over low heat until very fragrant (about 5 minutes). Don’t let the garlic brown.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. When well-heated add the shrimp. Cook stirring occasionally until all of the shrimp have turned pink (5-6 minutes). Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir. Cook just until the tomatoes are warmed through.
- Pile 1/4 of the arugula on to each dinner plate. Top with some penne and then with some of the shrimp and tomato sauce. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tbsp each of capers and red onion.
This recipe is scheduled for February 7th in my February Meal Plan. Head over there to see what else I have in store for this month.