What’s Up, Hungry People?
Ever have one of those nights where you just dig through whatever you can find in your refrigerator and cross your fingers for a culinary win? Yeah, me too. I fondly refer to this as the “What can I whip up from what’s chillin’ in my fridge door?” challenge. Let’s face it, some ingredients hang around in there just waiting for their moment to shine.
Tonight, I struck gold! I found some stray garlic cloves, a smattering of cherry tomatoes, half a lonely lemon, and some extra spicy hot sauce we snagged during a trip to Mexico. Nestled in the back of my fridge were various chopped pieces of onions and peppers. To my delight, I also unearthed a bottle of sherry and an open pack of capellini noodles from my pantry. I’m labeling this masterpiece as a scampi, mainly because it’s loaded with shrimp and butter. And let’s be real, those are the VIPs of any good scampi dish.
Here’s What You Need
- Shrimp: The star protein of the dish; provides a rich, oceanic flavor and a satisfying, meaty texture.
- Sherry or White Wine: Used for deglazing the pan and adding complexity to the sauce; it adds a nuanced, fruity undertone.
- Parmesan Cheese: Adds a salty, nutty flavor while helping to thicken the sauce; a finishing touch that melds all the flavors together.
- Butter: Serves as the cooking fat for both the shrimp and vegetables; adds richness and depth to the overall dish.
- Fresh Parsley: Brightens up the dish with its fresh, herbal notes; offers a pop of color and balances richer elements.
- Garlic: Provides a foundational flavor that infuses the entire dish with its aromatic, earthy kick.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Contribute a burst of natural sweetness and acidity; their juices help to create a more rounded sauce.
- Red or Green Bell Pepper: Adds a crisp, slightly sweet crunch, enhancing the texture and offering a complementary flavor.
- Red Onion: Brings a hint of pungency and sweetness; works with garlic as the aromatic base for the sauce.
- Lemon: Its juice offers a refreshing zesty twist that cuts through the richness and highlights the flavors.
- Hot Sauce: Optional for those who like a little heat; adds an exciting kick to the scampi sauce.
- Capellini Noodles: The vehicle for all the flavors; its thin, quick-cooking strands soak up the sauce beautifully.
- Salt & Pepper: Essential for seasoning; they accentuate all the other flavors and tie everything together.
First off, melt that glorious butter and flash-fry the shrimp until they turn pink and just start to brown. We’re talking about a quick 30 seconds on each side. Set the shrimp aside when they’re done but let that butter linger in the skillet; it’s packed with flavor.
Toss in your chopped onions, garlic, and peppers into the same buttery skillet and sauté until the veggies soften up. Pro tip: add the tomatoes last, after the other vegetables have cooked for a bit. Tomatoes are like the sprinters of the vegetable world; they cook fast!
While you’re tending to your veggie medley, get those noodles cooking according to the package instructions. Now, I used capellini noodles this time around, but hey, spaghetti or fettuccine work like a charm too.
Splash some sherry into the skillet to deglaze the pan, then season with salt and pepper. Want some heat? Add a dash of that spicy hot sauce and give it a good stir. If you’re looking for a gentler kick, red pepper flakes are your friend here.
Fold the shrimp back into the skillet sauce and add half a cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the rest of the water from the noodles, and toss them into the mix.
Sprinkle in about half of the Parmesan cheese into the dish, reserving the rest for a cheesy topping once you’re ready to dig in. Don’t forget to squeeze that half lemon over the noodles to add a zesty twist, then give it a good stir.
I managed to create this scampi dish in about 15 minutes. Full disclosure: I did pause here and there to take some snapshots. Pasta dishes are ideal for weeknight meals because they’re versatile and quick to prepare. You can even do spaghetti carbonara if that’s more your vibe. Plus, the single pan approach makes clean-up a breeze. Little side note: you can totally skip cooking the capellini separately. Just add some extra water directly to the skillet and let it cook there.
And just like that, you’ve transformed a bunch of seemingly random ingredients into a comforting, speedy dinner. The best cooking often comes from those unplanned moments when you let your creativity run wild, guided by whatever’s lurking in your fridge and pantry. Trust me, your tastebuds (and your wallet) will thank you.
Happy cooking, Hungry People!
Simple Shrimp Scampi
- 16 oz shrimp peeled
- 1 cup sherry or white wine
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
- ½ cup red or green bell pepper chopped
- ½ cup red onion chopped
- ½ lemon juiced
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce optional
- ½ box capellini noodles
- Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shrimp and cook for about thirty seconds on each side, until they turn pink and get a golden hue. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set them aside. Keep the butter in the pan for extra flavor.
- Add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic to the skillet with the reserved butter. Sauté until the onions become tender. Toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour in the sherry to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir them into the sauce. Add a half cup of pasta water to the mix.
- Drain the pasta and incorporate it into the pan. Spritz in the lemon juice and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Stir well until the cheese has melted.
- Allow the sauce to thicken for another minute or until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve immediately and enjoy!