The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Spring Recipe: Tagliatelle ai gamberi e pachino con zucchine e punte d’Asparagi

Shrimp and Cherry Tomato Tagliatelle with Asparagus Tips and Zucchini

Tagliatelle_Shrimp_Asparagus_Zucchini_Cherry_Tomatoes

Finished dish

Spring is a most magnificent time of year. The milder weather and freshness of plants beginning to bloom stirs up that desire for a lighter lifestyle and a more delicate cuisine to match. Mediterranean dishes, in particular, are a very appropriate choice for this season, and one of my favorites amongst these is Tagliatelle with Shrimp and Tomatoes. Of the numerous variations of this classic, my favorite is this one, asparagus tips and zucchini (green squash).

I highly recommend all fresh vegetables and shrimp for this dish or it will not yield the desired results. The whole process takes about 40-45 minutes and serves 4 portions. And while easy to make, the timing is of utmost importance.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Tagliatelle

16 oz. Cherry Tomatoes (or Grape Tomatoes)

1 Medium-Large Green Squash

1 lb. Asparagus

1 lb. Fresh Shrimp (cleaned, without tails)

1 Cup Fish Stock or Vegetable Stock

2 Garlic cloves

Fresh Parsley

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Preparation:

– Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves.

– Dice the green squash.

– Peel the garlic cloves.

– Cut the asparagus in half, discarding the bottom halves, and cut the tops into pieces about an inch long.

– Mince the parsley.

– Clean/rinse the shrimp if needed.

Once the prep work is done, pour enough olive oil into a large saucepan to cover the bottom surface of the pan and put it over a medium flame. Add the garlic cloves and let these brown in the oil, then add the cherry tomatoes.

(I prefer not to peel the tomatoes as those little bits of peel add a nice consistency to the dish, but feel free to peel them if you prefer.)

After adding the tomatoes, put a large pot of water on a high flame, adding 2 teaspoons of salt to the water and let that come to a boil.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes will start to simmer. Stir in the stock and cook it for about 20 minutes on a low flame, partially covered, until the tomatoes are soft and the peels start to separate from the pulp.

At this point, when the sauce starts to thicken a bit, add the asparagus and the squash and cook them in the sauce for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Then, add the shrimp to the sauce.

By this point, the water should be boiling, so throw the pasta in the water as soon as you’ve added the shrimp.

Typically, tagliatelle only take 3-5 minutes to cook, so you need to make sure the shrimp and the pasta start to cook at roughly the same time, otherwise your shrimp will be too chewy or your pasta will be too soft. The timing on the asparagus and green squash is also important as it will cook them through, but they will still be slightly crunchy.

Once the pasta is al dente, turn off the flame on both the water and the sauce. Strain the pasta and add it to the sauce.  Sprinkle minced parsley, salt and pepper to taste, then mix gently, but extensively, until the sauce and the pasta start to amalgamate. Then plate and serve!

Sauce in preparation

Sauce in preparation

I suggest pairing this dish with a nice white wine. Either of these two would go amazingly: Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2012 or Raffaele Palma Puntacroce 2011. Both wines present citrusy freshness, which makes them a perfect pairing for any fish dish and for squash, but both also have hints of salinity, which also lend themselves very well to complementing earthy vegetables such as asparagus.

Enjoy!

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Fantinel Brut Rosé NV

Crisp, dry, bright and fresh, this under $20 spumante will surprise you!

SPK71-2Growing up in Italy, I learned there are a number of wine experiences that are just part of daily life. Having an aperitivo before dinner with a good Prosecco, sipping a good wine that complements the dishes at dinner, and celebrating a special occasion with a nice spumante. It’s just the way of things there—it’s part of the culture. In my 25 years of living La Dolce Vita, I thought I had tried most of the good spumante the market had to offer. I was incorrect.

Fantinel Brut Rosé is one of those eye-opening sparklers. I tried this under $20 bottle recently at one of our Saturday tastings and decided to bring a bottle home to share with my wife. After all, any reason is a good reason to celebrate life with a good wine. As I expected, my wife showed the same wide-eyed surprised look on her face as I did when I first tried it. This Brut Rosé has an unusual shade of pink, and when you look at it, you don’t expect it to be both bright and dry. Hints of berries follow the initial burst of freshness and acidity, and its rich, crisp finish makes it suitable for pairing with many different dishes.

This wine has been regularly stocked in our fridge ever since I shared that first bottle with my wife—chilled and ready to pop open at any time, and for any occasion. If you haven’t tried this gem from Friuli yet, you owe it to yourself do so at your earliest. It’s a true go-to bottle that is sure to impress, and possibly even surprise.

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