Summer comfort food
Sometimes you just need comfort food, even when it’s close to 100° outside. That was my frame of mind the other day. I didn’t care that it was hot and humid; I wanted pasta. Not a pasta salad. I wanted real pasta with a rich cream sauce. Now, I know that we’re not supposed to eat rich cream sauces, but you just have to indulge every once in a while.
For me, this was the time. And, oh, in my book, comfort food has to have bacon! Bacon just makes everything better. In all fairness, as I got into the spirit of making something somewhat unhealthy, I did make a couple of summer concessions. To start, I opted to use shrimp as the protein instead of a heavy sausage meatball. And, also because I had pre-cooked shrimp in the freezer, which meant that it cut down on a cooking step. Additionally, as a salute to summer, instead of using stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce, I used fresh grape tomatoes to make the sauce. It was so bright and colorful that comfort was immediately achieved!
Fresh or frozen shrimp
Let’s chat about shrimp for a minute. As I live in Florida, you might be wondering why I use frozen shrimp. Well, I’m glad you asked! The truth is almost all the shrimp you buy is frozen. It’s just been thawed by your grocer. Shrimp is frozen shortly after it is caught — which isn’t a bad thing! This instant freezing keeps the shrimp fresh. It’s just that most of us didn’t know that this was the case. We thought that “fresh” was, well, fresh.
As most shrimp is frozen, it comes down to who and when the shrimp gets thawed. I prefer to thaw it myself, as then I know it’s “fresh” and hasn’t been sitting out in the fish/seafood case at the store for who knows how long. Buying it frozen also means that you can take advantage of sales. When frozen shrimp goes on sale, I stock up! I keep both cooked and uncooked shrimp in my freezer. I love the convenience of the cooked shrimp. It’s cleaned, deveined and all I need to do is remove the shell. I thaw frozen cooked shrimp in cold water. (If it’s frozen raw shrimp, I thaw it overnight in the refrigerator).
Prep your veggies
Before you start, make sure the shrimp is cleaned, cooked and ready to go. The other prep is your basic chopping of veggies. The red onion, pepper, and garlic all need chopping or mincing. Adjust the ingredients to fit your tastes or what you have on hand. White onion, green onion, or yellow onion can substitute for red onion. If you don’t like garlic or jalapeno, omit them. If you love spice and heat, double the amount!
Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Cherry tomatoes are fine if that’s what you have. Plum tomatoes are also a good substitute, but they will require chopping.
Fry up the bacon
The bacon needs chopping before frying. The colder the bacon, the easier it is to slice up. When it’s ready, toss it in a large heated skillet and cook until brown and crisp. Drain the excess grease. You want to leave a little in the pan, but the rest can go. Some cooks, not me, consider bacon fat “liquid gold” and store it in a soup can for future use.
Drain the fat, add the onion, garlic, peppers to the bacon and cook until the onion is soft. After a few minutes, toss in the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to blister and burst.
Add the shrimp to the mixture and cook for another few minutes to allow the shrimp to warm thoroughly.
Add the cream and season. It only takes a few minutes for the sauce to thicken. Reduce the temp to low to keep the sauce warm while preparing the pasta.
I love angel hair pasta! It tastes great and cooks in literally 3-4 minutes. I put the water on the burner while the tomatoes are cooking, and by the time the sauce has thickened, the water is boiling, and I can add the pasta. Drain the pasta.
Add the basil to the sauce, and it’s ready to serve! Ahhh, pure comfort!! Life is good again.
Easy Bacon & Shrimp Pasta in Tomato Cream SauceCourse: Main, PastaCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This easy pasta is the ultimate summer comfort food! The shrimp, tomato cream sauce is cooked is cooked in the same pan with the bacon infusing all the smoky deliciousness. The fresh tomatoes burst with flavor and compliment the sweet, tender shrimp. Served on top of quick cooking angel hair pasta and garnished with fresh basil.
8 ounces angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved (about 1 lb.)
½ cup finely chopped red onion
½ jalapeno pepper – chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 4 garlic cloves)
1 pound cooked shrimp
½ pound bacon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- Prep: Wash and half tomatoes. Finely chop red onion, pepper and basil, mince the garlic. If necessary, peel, clean (devein and remove tail) and cook shrimp. Chop bacon.
- Add chopped bacon to a hot skillet and cook until bacon brown and crispy. Drain excess bacon grease and add red onion, garlic and to the bacon. Cook for 3-4 minute until onion is soft. Add in the tomatoes and cook until they begin to burst and lose their juices. Stir in shrimp, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle the tomato-shrimp mixture with salt and pepper, and stir in heavy cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low to keep warm while cooking the pasta as per package instructions.
- Drain pasta. Stir in chopped basil to shrimp/tomato sauce. Top pasta with sauce and serve immediately
- Grape tomatoes: Substitute cherry tomatoes or chopped plum tomatoes
- Angel hair pasta: Substitute spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or linguine