Last Night’s Dinner: Pasta with Shrimp, Scallops, Calamari, and Spring Vegetables

At first glance this might look suspiciously similar to the Spaghetti with Seafood and Pinot Grigio recipe that I just posted.  Yes, they both have pasta, white wine, shrimp, and spinach.  But there is one very big difference: this has butter.  And cream.  But not too much cream- we’re not talking Fettucine Alfredo decadence here.  Just enough to pull everything together.  And there are green things mixed in, so that negates the butter and cream, right?  This is a great meal to transition from winter to spring- the cream and pasta give enough richness to be satisfying on a chilly night, but the fresh veggies and seafood bring a lightness that foreshadows the sunny days and warm breezes to come.  It’s also super-quick and easy.

This is based on a Real Simple recipe for Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta.  The first time I made it, the only uncooked shrimp I could find at Trader Joe’s were in a “Seafood Medley” of shrimp, scallops, and calamari.  I liked the variety, so I’ve stuck with the blend since then, but you definitely would not go wrong with just using shrimp.  The slight sweetness from the little pink guys rounds out the rest of the flavors, and I think the forkfuls that included a bite of shrimp were my favorites.  Since scallops have a little sweetness, too, they would work on their own as well.  If you are looking for a recipe to use just calamari though, I wouldn’t recommend this- they work fine here, but it’s not greatest flavor palate to really showcase squid as the main ingredient.  Which reminds me that I should share my favorite calamari recipe with you soon….

What else is different between my version and Real Simple’s?  Well, my proportions of ingredients are a little different.  Originally, since I was just cooking this for Nick and myself, I planned to reduce the recipe by a third.  It’s supposed to be four servings which seemed like too much but I got nervous that if I cut it in half to two servings, Nick might not have enough to eat.  I still used a full pound of seafood though.  After emptying two-thirds of the shrimp, scallops, and calamari into the pan and contemplating wrapping up the rest and putting it back in the freezer, I just said, “F*** it,” and dumped it all in.   In the end, I think the portions I used would make four reasonable servings- we both went back for seconds after dinner and still had some left for Nick’s lunch the next day (minus the couple bites I sneaked in the morning while supervising the cats’ breakfast feeding).

Pasta with Shrimp, Scallops, Calamari, and Spring Vegetables (serves 3-4; adapted from Real Simple, April 2011)

8 ounces short pasta (I like strozzapreti if you can find it, but fusilli or gemilli works as well)

1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 large leek (white and light green parts only), cut into half-moons

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 pound of uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined; or 1 pound total of uncooked small shrimp, bay scallops, calamari rings

grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice from 1 lemon

1 cup of broccolini, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

6 ounces baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot.

In the meantime, heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks have softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the white wine and cook until wine has almost evaporated.  Add seafood and lemon zest and cook, stirring frequently.  When seafood is about half-cooked (starting to get opaque), add the broccolini.  Cook a couple more minutes until seafood is cooked through and broccolini is bright green and slightly tender.

Add cream and a little salt to the large pot with pasta.  Over medium heat, stir until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes.  Add in seafood mixture, spinach, and lemon juice, and stir until spinach is wilted.  Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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