Living in landlocked Umbria with no coastline, our seafood comes from either the lakes within our region, or it has to be brought over from either coast, about 2 hours away. Seafood therefore does not play an important part in Umbrian cuisine. A new trend has started over the past couple of years however, and many local restaurants are now offering a seafood menu on Friday’s, bringing in fresh seafood from the sea, which is a lovely treat for those of us who enjoy it. We recently had a very busy day and decided to grab a pizza out at a local pizzeria. We were surprised to learn when we arrived that they too were offering a seafood menu on Thursdays and Fridays each week. Having already made my mind up that I was having pizza, I turned down the seafood menu, but one pasta dish had grabbed my attention and almost made me change my mind. The dish was fresh pasta with zucchini, shrimps, and cherry tomatoes. This pasta dish looked delicious, and though I didn’t order it, I had it on my mind for the next couple of weeks until I made it myself at home.
Zucchini and shrimp are a great combination in both risotto and pasta dishes, and the addition of cherry tomatoes just adds a little sweetness. I used a long stranded Umbrian pasta called Ciriole, that is similar to spaghetti but square in shape. For this recipe you could use spaghetti, fresh pasta such as fetuccine, or even short pasta such as penne or rigatoni. There is no “sauce”, as the ingredients meld together to coat the pasta, keeping the dish light for summer. As I continually say, any dish is only as good as the ingredients, so choose very fresh shrimp, small zucchini, and ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes for the best results. As a general rule, you never top any pasta dish that contains seafood with cheese, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.
Deborah Mele 2013
- 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Small Zucchini, Cut Into Coins
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Sliced
- 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, Cut In Half
- 1 Pound Medium Shrimp, Peeled & Deveined
- 12 Fresh Basil Leaves, Thinly Sliced
- Pinch Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- Salt & Black Pepper
- 1 Pound Pasta
- Fresh Chopped Parsley
- Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat, then brown the zucchini rounds until lightly browned on both sides.
- Use a scoop to remove the zucchini to a bowl and set aside.
- Place a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil for the pasta.
- Add the pasta and cook until it is "al dente" following the package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the garlic to the pan the zucchini was cooked in and cook just a minute or two over medium heat until it is fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes to the garlic, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the shrimp.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and cook another 1 to 2 minutes to reheat.
- Add the basil, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes if using, and keep warm.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a small cup of the pasta water, and return it to the pot.
- Add the shrimp mixture to the pasta and cook a minute or two over high heat adding a little pasta water as needed until it is piping hot.
- Serve, garnished with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.