Pasta with Burst Tomatoes and Shrimp

One of my best food memories is of a meal I had in Puglia. It was at a winery and we had a simple lunch that began with focaccia studded with tomatoes, the winery’s olive oil, olives and the wonderful Puglian burrata cheese that oozes cream as soon as you cut into it. This was followed by pasta with tomatoes and shrimp. Because tomatoes were just out of season they were flash cooked so their flavour intensified. The shrimp were fresh out of the water. We ended the meal with taralli, a type of Italian bread stick, and bitter black coffee. It was magic.

Because I am able to purchase farm-raised fresh Ontario shrimp, that pasta gave me the idea for this recipe. I never realized that shrimp could be raised in vats and really anywhere – if you can provide the right conditions. These Ontario shrimp were firm, juicy and had lots of flavour, plus all the perks of being local.

It is important to cook pasta al dente. Not only does it taste better, but it might actually be healthier for you. Some sources claim that it has a lower glycemic index than overcooked pasta. We tried this with both long and short pasta and found that long pasta pulled the ingredients together better, but you can use short if that’s what you have on hand.

You can use Swiss chard, kale, rapini or dandelion greens in this dish. We used a mixture. Breadcrumbs are used often in pasta dishes when there is a seafood ingredient to give added texture, because cheese is not traditionally used with seafood.

Ready time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

12 ounces (375 grams) fettucine

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 pound (500 grams) shrimp, peeled

12 ounces (375 grams) stemmed mixed greens, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon chili flakes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup toasted breadcrumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add fettucine and boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and tomatoes and sauté until tomatoes burst, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until they turn light pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in greens and chili flakes and sauté until the greens wilt, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add pasta to skillet and toss together. Add enough pasta cooking water to moisten everything, up to 1 cup. Season well with salt and pepper. Toss with extra virgin olive oil and finish with breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.