Our dear neighbors were on vacation (we were too though, but theirs was longer than ours) and we were asked if we could water their backyard while they were away. But we were away too so they asked our neighbors from the back to water their garden instead. Apparently our back neighbor seem to always forget to water the garden. So we would do it sometimes. Today, from my kitchen window I saw that there were all kinds of tomatoes that were ready for picking. I grabbed my small basket and asked my husband to come with me and water the garden while I harvest (Our neighbors let us harvest even when they are home. There is just too much produce in that garden).
While I was gardening I was already brainstorming on what to fix with the tomatoes? I remember seeing a recipe from the current Food & Wine magazine that used a lot of fresh tomatoes. While I was there, I also pinched some basil leaves and cut me some cucumbers and squash. The bell peppers were still green and the onions were still too small. Maybe next time.
I have tweaked the recipe from the Food and Wine magazine (July 2012) to adjust to my busy schedule, the ingredients on hand and for practicality purposes.
The recipe was to bake the tomatoes in the oven for 20 minutes after preheating the oven. What I did on the other hand was to blanch the scored tomatoes in the pasta water (after I cooked the noodles al dente). I peeled the tomatoes and with a fine mesh strainer/colander removed the inedible seeds and discarded them.
Anyhow, here is my version of Spaghettini with Shrimps, Tomatoes and Chile Crumbs.
1 lb. medium to large shrimps, peeled and deveined with the tail left on
salt and pepper
1 12 oz package of thin spaghetti (or regular spaghetti), cooked according to package instructions
5 large tomatoes (plum, roma or red round tomatoes or a combination), scored with an “X” in the bottom
5 tbsps extra virgin olive oil (divided)
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp finely sliced basil
1/2 lb cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp chili flakes
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup pasta water
Pat dry peeled and deveined shrimp with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and cook over moderately low heat. Stir constantly. The breadcrumbs burns easily so watch it. Usually it takes around 5 minutes before it turns golden brown. Add the chili flakes and lemon zest then season with salt. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
Cook spaghetti noodles according to package instructions. Cook until “al dente”. Remove pasta from pot but reserve the pasta water. Drizzle pasta with 1 tbsp olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
Put scored tomatoes in boiling pasta water and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove tomatoes from water and put it in a fine mesh colander. Remove skin from the tomatoes. Be careful, the tomatoes are still hot. With a wooden spoon, strain the tomato juices from the tomatoes and discard the seeds.
In a large pan, heat 2 tbsps olive oil and add the minced garlic. Cook garlic until golden brown. Add half of the sliced cherry and grape tomatoes and all of the tomato puree. Add the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Turn of the heat and add the basil leaves. Set aside.
In the skillet where you cooked the breadcrumbs, heat the remainder of the olive oil. Cook the shrimps for 1 1/2 minutes per side.
Put the tomato sauce back to the heat. Add the pasta noodles along with a some pasta water. Coat pasta with tomato sauce then add the cooked shrimps.
Transfer the pasta to bowls and add the rest of the cherry and grape tomatoes. Top with a little more tomato sauce and bread crumbs.
Serve right away.
You can make the tomato sauce and bread crumbs days in advance. Refrigerate the tomato sauce and kepp the breadcrumbs in an airtight container.