Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lemony Asparagus Pasta with Shrimp

This is my new favorite pasta recipe ever.  Like...of all time. I am so NOT exaggerating. I really need to enter this in a contest or something, because it would win first prize for sure. The pictures don't look as nice because I totally forgot about them since I ate my bowl so fast, so I had to take them at the very last minute.  Spaghetti, asparagus, and shrimp are bathed in a rich sauce with a slight bite of mustard, garlic, lemon, and Parmesan.  The shrimp is super flavorful as well, and very juicy.  My parents and I both agree the shrimp itself is the best we've ever had.  Cooking the large amount of garlic in the oil left over from the shrimp, salt, and pepper gives the sauce an amazingly flavorful base.   I'm still in shock of how perfectly this turned out....I honestly threw it together myself expecting an average pasta dish.  The result is summery and refreshingly light, but rich and comforting at the same time.  I've never had anything like it before, and  -> I wouldn't change a thing about it.<-   My parents are still raving about it as we speak....they're saying I need to give it to Carrabba's to put on their menu.  And my mom is making me make it for her every night before a race for her pasta meal (carb loading). My family and I will definitely be looking forward to those nights!

Yield: about 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound extra large, raw shrimp
salt and pepper

8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti pasta
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup low fat milk (I used 2%)
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon  extra-virgin olive oil
3.5 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon 
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the tablespoon olive oil.  Add the shrimp and cook until pink and just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes (I recommend cutting the biggest one in half to make sure it's done).  While shrimp is cooking, add a very generous amount of salt and pepper.  When shrimp is fully cooked, transfer to a bowl and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.  Do not clean off the skillet you cooked the shrimp in; set it aside for later use with the sauce.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 6 minutes. Add asparagus and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, about 3 minutes more. Drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, whisk milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the one teaspoon olive oil to the skillet you cooked the shrimp in over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tarragon, lemon zest and juice.

Stir the sauce into the cooked pasta and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, about one to two minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in the cooked shrimp.  Stir 1/2 cup Parmesan into the pasta until combined. Serve the pasta topped with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.

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