On a busy evening when dinner in a hurry is needed, very few dishes fit the bill as well as pasta. It cooks up in a flash, is both satisfying and child-friendly, and is an excellent way to stretch ingredients already at hand in the fridge, freezer, or garden. And is there a dish that is easier to make or lends itself to more delicious adaptations than pasta Alfredo?
In this south-of-the-border riff on that much-loved dish, I combined some beautiful wild-caught shrimp I found yesterday with bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and a touch of cumin in a chipotle-spiced creamy sauce. Although this was an impromptu recipe, I thought the flavors combined beautifully, and, yes, I will definitely make this recipe again. For chili lovers, this recipe is quick enough for a weeknight dinner and would also work well when company is expected.
8 ounces dried pasta (linguine, fettuccine, etc.)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced
4-5 small fresh plum tomatoes (or 10 cherry tomatoes), stem ends and seeds removed, sliced
1 or more canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 pound peeled large shrimp
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, light cream, or evaporated milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander greens, dhania, etc.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
(Optional) 1/4 cup grated cotija or parmesan cheese
- Boil the pasta in a large sauce pan until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large frying pan on medium heat and, stirring occasionally, sauté the onions for 2 minutes or until wilted. Stir in the garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cumin. Sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the chipotle(s), shrimps, lemon juice, and half-and-half (or cream or evaporated milk). Simmer until the shrimps are just cooked through, approximately 3-4 minutes, depending on the size of shrimps used. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and correct the seasoning by adding salt, pepper, and, if needed, additional chipotles to suit your taste.
- Return the pasta to the sauce pan in which it was cooked, sprinkle with the grated cheese, if used, and pour the shrimp sauce over it. Toss until well blended and transfer to a serving dish. Serves 4 as a main course.