Yes, I’m aware it’s only Saturday. (It’s Saturday, right? RIGHT?!?)
Had a celebration of one this evening. Going to try to get an actual Sunday reader together for the reason on that tomorrow. But since we’re all really trying to keep our minds off current events and/or not trying to go stir crazy in the house, I’m adding another cooking post for our Weekend readers. This one will be shorter than the one from last week, at least when counting by words if not pics.
Tonight’s dish is a combination of pure comfort food, a nod to fad diets, and a hint of pretentiousness. It’s actually easy, providing you can handle multiple things that must come together at once right before serving.
The dish: Sautéed shrimp over roasted spaghetti squash tossed in basil, topped with Alfredo sauce and toasted walnuts.
You can of course skip the spaghetti squash and just boil some fettuccini if you like, but this version is low carb, and as for the rest….let’s just promise we’re not telling our cardiologists about anything, agree?
There are several parts independent of each other here. Your spaghetti squash becomes your “noodle” base, and takes the longest time start to plated. You can literally prep everything else from frozen or shelf-stable to finish while the squash is cooking, but you want to save a couple of the cooking steps until your squash is done.
Let’s start with the squash. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take a whole spaghetti squash, slice it lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and fibrous gunk. Coat the inside with a light sheen of olive oil, shake some sea salt over it, and turn it face down on a baking sheet. Stick a fork 2-3 times through each half to vent, then bake for about 45 minutes. You’ll need 1 squash per person if this is your main dish with no sides other than maybe a salad.
When it’s done (and you’ll be doing a few steps for the alfredo sauce, walnuts, and prepping the shrimp to cook before you get here), turn each side over, and rake the insides with a fork. This is where you “spaghetti” the squash into pasta like strands.
Get yourself some fresh basil, and toss it in. Don’t be shy. Basil is your friend.
This is the part we keep a secret from our cardiologists. And any medical professional. Heck, anyone that is into nutrition. This food would be from the devil were it not for two things: 1) It’s awesome, and 2) It’s actually low carb, so it fits with keto diets. Still…save for special occasions.
The ratios here are simple, and this recipe would be enough for dinner for two.
1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream.
1/2 cup (one stick) of butter
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Let’s be clear about the parmesan. You can use the stuff in the green plastic container that can sit on your shelf for years, and it will be OK. But, why are you going to be so cheap when you’re preparing to invest thousands in your future co-pays for angioplasty? Spring for the extra $3 and get a block of parmesan and spend 30 seconds to grate it.
Shortly after your squash is in the oven, combine your cream and butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper if you like. Get a good wisp and stir occasionally. If it begins to bubble/boil, you’re at too high heat and/or you need to begin stirring constantly.
Keep it this temp until you’re ready to serve. You will add the cheese last, just before serving. Otherwise, it will clump if you stop stirring. No one wants clumpy Alfredo sauce.
Now we’re going to toast some walnut halves/pieces. If you have a second oven, preheat it to 400 as well. If not, you can use the one the squash are in, just use another rack.
Scatter some walnut pieces on a foil lined baking sheet. Melt about 1/2 stick butter with some sea salt. Sprinkle your walnuts heavily with white or black pepper and garlic powder. Pour the butter over the walnuts and bake for about 10 minutes.
Watch carefully, as they can and will scorch. That’s worse than clumpy Alfredo sauce. Remove from oven when sufficiently browned, and set aside.
I keep shrimp in the freezer at all times. They’re easy to thaw under cold running water, and cook very quickly. If doing this dish for a larger group and/or with other items that have to be cooked, a sous vide keeps you from overcooking and serving when you’re ready. For this recipe (dinner for 1-4), pan sautéing is fine/preferred.
Heat up 1/2 stick of butter for 1/2 pound of shrimp in a skillet. When it is on the verge of browning, add a couple teaspoons of minced garlic, and reduce heat.
You can hold here until you have “spaghettied” your squash, your walnuts are ready, and your butter/cream is ready for cheese to melt into Alfredo sauce. Turn off the heat under the butter if needed until all those other things are ready.
When it’s go time, just add your shrimp into the hot garlic butter, and add a few heavy splashes of lemon juice.
Go ahead and begin adding your parmesan to your cream sauce base, about 1/3 at at time. Stir both sauce and shrimp simultaneously. Both will be done in just a couple of minutes. Shrimp are done with they are pink. Don’t over cook them, and remove them from heat as soon as they are done.
Now, plate it and bring it all together. Start with your squash:
Add your Alfredo sauce:
Add your shrimp:
Then top with toasted walnuts, and extra grated parmesan if you like.