Spaghetti Tossed in Shrimp Butter

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IMG_8698This is one of the tastiest pasta dishes you will ever have. Really. How can it not be good when the sauce contains onions, garlic, lots of shrimp, mushrooms, red peppers, Ouzo , butter, cream cheese and the surprise ingredient? Vanilla extract!

This pasta dish is a riff on shrimp butter that I’ve used for canapes and the original inspiration came from Dragon’s Kitchen’s Titanic Dinner from last year. Ironically, this dish contains no butter but the richness of pureed shrimp and stuff makes it….buttery! Making the pasta dish is very quick easy – it’s the making of the sauce that’s a little involved but again, nothing too hard.

Sweat onions, garlic, mushrooms, shrimp, tomato paste and then add the shrimp. I also like adding the shrimp shells (wrap in cheese cloth so they can be easily removed) and then some wine, Metaxa (brandy) and reduce. Squeeze out as much of the juices as you can from the cheesecloth and discard and blitz the shrimp mixture in  food processor.

Add a splash of vanilla extract, softened cream cheese and chopped fresh tarragon. Taste, adjust seasoning and you’re practically done. Boil some pasta, sauté some shrimp (toss in a bit of olive oil and Old Bay seasoning) and when the pasta is done, toss with the sauce, top with some grated cheese and sautéed shrimp.

Heaven on a plate. Do not omit the vanilla!IMG_8704

Spaghetti Tossed in Shrimp Butter

(serves 4)

500gr. package of spaghetti or spaghetini

Shrimp Butter Sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup diced red onions

2 Tbsp. diced red peppers

1/4 cup sliced white mushrooms

2 clove of garlic, smashed

1 lb. shelled uncooked shrimp, deveined

the shrimp shells wrapped & tied in cheese cloth

1 shot of Metaxa brandy

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

2-3 drops  of vanilla extract

1/2 to 2/3 cup room temperature cream cheese

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of chilli flakes


grated dry Mizithra cheese (or you favourite grated cheese)

12 medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

extra-virgin olive oil

Old Bay Seasoning

finely chopped chives or scallions

  1. In a large skillet add the onions, diced peppers, mushrooms, garlic, tomato paste and sweat for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium high and add the shrimp and shrimp shells (in cheese cloth), sauté then add the Metaxa and wine and stir for a couple of minutes or until the shrimp have turned pink.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly then squeeze out all the delicious juices in the cheesecloth and discard. Empty into a food processor along with the softened cream cheese, ground pepper, pinch of salt. Process until almost smooth then taste and adjust seasoning, add a splash of vanilla extract, chilli flakes and fresh tarragon to taste, quickly process again and reserve.
  3. Place a large pot of water on your stovetop and bring up to a boil. Season the water with salt and and cook for about 6 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, toss your shrimp in some oil oil and season with Old Bay Seasoning. Place a large skillet on your stovetop over high heat. Add your shrimp and as soon as you see the shrimp curl to form a C-shape, turn them and turn the heat off.
  5. Reserve some pasta water then transfer your cooked pasta to a colander and strain. Return to the pot and add the shrimp butter sauce along with some pasta water and toss until the pasta is well-coated with sauce. Divide and plate and sprinkle the grated cheese, top with 3 shrimp per plate and finish with chives or scallions. Serve with a Gerovassaliou Viognier.

© 2013,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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