Main Course

Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Shrimp

The sauce for this pasta is done in three steps, with 3 components, roasted cherry tomatoes, spicy tomato sauce and shrimp.
Using the stems of basil only, I infused the spicy tomato sauce for a more intense basil flavor than just adding the basil leaves just before serving. Adding sambal bajak, a very spicy ground chili and garlic oil paste of Asian origin, which should be used very sparingly as it really is extremely hot in taste, brought the desired heat and spiciness that I wanted for this sauce. Plump and tender shrimp gave added bite and texture. Adding the basil leaves just before serving, brought freshness and vibrant color to finish the pasta.
For the roasted cherry tomatoes:
3 pints cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sambal bajak, which can be found in the ethnic aisle of the grocery store or any Asian store
2 basil stems, free of leaves
9 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
For the shrimp:
1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper from the pepper mill
For the pasta:
12 ounces spaghetti
1 gallon water
1 tablespoon salt
To start, pre-heat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit. While the oven is warming up, rinse, drain and dry the cherry tomatoes, as they will take 20 to 25 minutes to roast. Pour the 3 pints of cherry tomatoes on a large baking sheet, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, making sure that all the tomatoes are covered with the oil and salt, so use your hands if necessary to give them a good toss before placing the sheet in the oven. If you see the skin bursting sooner than 20 minutes, remove the cherry tomatoes from the oven, as you don’t want them over done and mushy.
Fill a large pot that can easily hold a gallon of water and 1 tablespoon of salt, bringing it to a boil. This will take about 18 minutes, if covered and boiled at high heat, so you have time to start prepping the rest of the ingredients.
As the cherry tomatoes are roasting in the oven and the water is heating, start shelling and deveining 1 pound of shrimp, if they were not already shelled and deveined and set a side. Then start mincing 2 cloves of garlic.
Heat a large skillet at medium heat. While waiting for the skillet to heat, check the pot of boiling water, because at this point, the water could be boiling, is so, add 12 ounces of spaghetti and cook until al dente which should take about 10 minutes.
Your skillet should be nice and toasty at this point. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, making sure the bottom is completely covered with oil, moving the pan around to ensure the oil slides all round. Add the shrimp, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper from the pepper mill and cook shrimp for 1 minute on either side before taking out of the pan. Turn the heat down to medium low, using the left over oil and bits in the pan, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 1 teaspoon sambal bajak and 2 tablespoons tomato paste to the pan, stirring for two minutes before adding 1 cup chicken broth, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 basil stems, free of leaves and simmer for 5 minutes at low heat before adding the shrimp back to the pan. The sauce will start reducing to a thicker consistency.
While the sauce is simmering, drain the pasta, remove the roasted cherry tomatoes from the oven and slice 9 large basil leaves, that you stack on top of each other, rolling tightly together, slicing in fine slices, which will be tossed with the spaghetti just before serving.

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