Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine

I’ve not posted much lately because of work…umm, and play, but I’m committed to at least keeping up with one post a month, so here’s the latest: Shrimp Fra Diavolo – a devilishly simple American Italian pasta dish. (“Fra diavola” apparently means “brother devil.”)

I don’t cook Italian very often and it’s the food that I least often go out for; perhaps unjustifiably, I just sometimes find it a bit boring.  It’s just so common in the U.S. However, I definitely enjoy spicy food and have been meaning to make a “fra diavolo” dish for some time. Just the other day, I was watching the television program “Lidia’s Italy,” and she made Calamari Fra Diavolo over Linguine that inspired me to do something other than my baked pasta dish that I often make when I don’t have the energy to do something ambitious.



For this recipe, I used the following ingredients:

  • linguine (dry)
  • olive oil
  • diced fire-roasted tomato, 2 cans (undrained)
  • red onion, 1/2 large, finely diced
  • cayenne powder (I used ~1 teaspoon)
  • red pepper flakes
  • garlic powder
  • oregano (dried)
  • fennel seed (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar (sparingly, to taste)
  • large shrimp, 6-8 cut to bite-sized pieces
    (I was short on shrimp, so I also cut a swai filet)
shrimp and swai, from frozen, prepped into small pieces.

Shrimp and Swai (fish), from frozen, prepped into small pieces

To prepare, begin by sautéing the diced onion in olive oil in a large pan.

Sautéing the onion in olive oil.

Sautéing the onion in olive oil.

Simultaneously begin boiling the pasta separately until al dente. Once the onion is tender, add the tomatoes; mashing them either in advance or in the pan. (I actually used a potato masher.) Next, add all the dry spices and sugar and stir regularly, while cooking and slightly reducing the sauce. I also added a generous portion of dry fennel seed because fennel is one of my favorites.

Preparing the sauce with spices.

Preparing the sauce with spices.

Add the shrimp pieces to the sauce and cook a few minutes; when the pasta is mostly cooked (al dente), add it to the pan as well.

Add the al dente pasta.

Add the al dente pasta.

Stir the pasta and sauce, and finish cooking when the pasta and shrimp are the desired doneness/texture.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine.

I made about 4 servings. It’s a simple, yet delicious dish!

Here’s the television program I watched that inspired this recipe, and her quite different Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipe that I just found after making mine:

I hope you enjoy this dish; as with others spiced with cayenne powder, it’s easy to make it as hot (or not) as you like.

I’m cautiously optimistic that I find time to get back to blogging (and blog reading) before July.
Either way – have a great summer! :)

Pasta with Salmon & Cabbage


Pasta with Salmon & Cabbage

Here’s an easy and healthy pasta dish!

Ingredients: 1/3 pound pasta (dry), canola oil and rice vinegar (equal parts, 2-3 T. each), 1/4 medium head of green cabbage (shredded), 1 1/2 t. fennel seeds, ~1/2 pound boneless salmon pieces (fresh), salt and black pepper, splash of Pastis or some other anise-flavored liquor (optional).

I used Mrs. Miller’s brand Old Fashioned Extra Wide Homemade Noodles and fresh salmon pieces painstakingly trimmed from fin and bone pieces ($1.49/lb.) that I bought to (simultaneously) make fish stock for soup.

Prepare the pasta as directed.  When the pasta has perhaps 5 minutes left, lightly sauté cabbage in vinegar and oil (and Pastis) in pan over medium high heat, i.e., tender but not completely limp.  Add fennel and stir in raw salmon so it cooks slightly.  Add black pepper and salt; mix in drained hot pasta, stir lightly and remove from heat when salmon is cooked to your liking.  I served this topped this with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of dried dill.

Adapted from this recipe: Salmon Fettuccine Cabbage

Rigatoni and Mornay Sauce

Rigatoni and Mornay Sauce

This is pretty much an upscale version of mac and cheese.

For 6-8 servings, it’s rigatoni (1 pound dry pasta), prepared al dente, mixed with chopped stewed tomato (1 can, drained), one finely diced large jalapeno (with seeds), all tossed with cream sauce, then put in a baking pan (10″ x 10″ x 2″), topped with more cream sauce, and sprinkled with red pepper flakes, dried oregano, and optionally 1/4 pound of bacon pieces (cooked in advance). Then it was baked for 30 minutes at 375°F until lightly browned. Set for perhaps 10 minutes then served topped with thinly sliced fresh jalapeno pepper.

The somewhat thick sauce is a Béchamel sauce, of butter (~1/4 cup) and flour (~1/3 cup) roux with milk or cream (~2 1/2 cups), with a bit of shredded sharp white cheddar (~1/4 pound) and powdered garlic added:
“Mornay sauce”

Related recipes:
A friend recently inspired me by posting this recipe:
“Macaroni and Béchamel Sauce”

Also, I’d recently seen an episode of Cook’s Country (from America’s Test Kitchen on PBS) with this recipe; if you want to make your own mac-and-cheese, this is a great place to start:
“Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes”

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Vegetables

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Vegetables

This is a simple, colorful vegetarian baked pasta dish that I make often.

Prepare fresh or dried rigatoni as usual. While it’s boiling, sauté coarsely chopped red onion and green pepper in olive oil until they become slightly tender; season with oregano and black pepper then add quartered fresh mushrooms and continue until mushrooms are lightly sautéed. Drain pasta and pour into a baking dish or pan (e.g., 9″x14″ for 4 servings, so that it forms a shallow layer) greased lightly with olive oil. Mix sautéed vegetables and one can drained diced, stewed tomatoes into pasta. (Many other roasted or sauteed vegetables, olives, and toasted pine nuts are nice additions.) Lightly top with grated Pecorino Romano or other aged Italian cheese, sprinkle with oregano, generously with fennel seed, thinly sliced garlic from a couple cloves, and salt and pepper as you like. Bake 15-20 minutes at 425°F – until the garlic slices on top just begin to brown.

Baked Rigatoni with Sautéed Vegetables

Serve with garlic toast. Here I also added a few pieces of fresh mozzarella ciliegine (e.g., Trader Joe’s) per serving after baking, so that it doesn’t melt.

Thyme & Anise Farfalle

Thyme & Anise Farfalle

When you have thyme but not much time, try this simple pasta dish with two of my favorite flavors. If you don’t like anise (a licorice-like flavor), omit the liquor.

Prepare farfalle or any pasta. When pasta has just a few minutes left, lightly saute sliced sweet plum tomatoes and sliced green olives in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, with fresh garlic, fresh thyme, oregano, and black pepper. Add a splash (i.e., just a fraction of a teaspoon) of an anise-flavored liquor such as Pastis (French, that I had on hand), Ouzo (Greek), or Sambuca (Italian). When the pasta is done, add diced fresh mozzarella to saute so that it just begins to melt and the garlic and herbs cling to it. Drain pasta and serve topped with the oil and sauteed ingredients.