Saturday, August 6, 2016


Whether you’re busy with a summer project, working on a sun-tan, still enjoying vacation leisure or, groan, getting ready for a new school year (not in Spain, where the school term doesn’t begin until mid-September), August is no time for spending long hours in the kitchen.

I’m touting fast foods for summer, with menus that are a “flash in the pan.” See last week’s posting for tips and Menu #1. Here’s Menu #2, ready in 30 minutes.

Ready in a flash! Tomato-cheese salad and pasta with sizzling shrimp, garlic and chile. Someone please pour the cook a glass of chilled rosado.

Menu 2 (30-minutes)

Tomato-Goat Cheese Salad
Pasta with Sizzling Garlic Shrimp and Zucchini

Ingredients for salad starter and main of pasta with shrimp and zucchini.

This main dish is inspired by a favorite Spanish tapa—gambas al ajillo (called gambas al pil pil in Andalusia), shrimp sizzled with garlic, served in tiny cazuelitas with chunks of bread for sopping up the delicious garlicky oil. It’s absolutely only a tapa or, at most, a starter. But, spoon those sizzling shrimp over pasta and they make a terrific main.

I bought a bag of multi-colored cherry tomatoes at the market, and combined them with fresh goat cheese for a salad-starter. I don’t like vinegar with fresh tomatoes, so there’s no need to make a dressing. Just drizzle the tomatoes and cheese with extra virgin olive oil and plenty of salt. Finish it with chopped fresh basil, chopped mint or parsley.

Tomato-Goat Cheese Salad
Ensalada de Tomate y Queso de Cabra

Cubes of fresh goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Pretty simple.

Queso fresco de cabra is a fresh, mild goat’s cheese. It is soft, not creamy, firm enough that it can be cut in dice.  If not available, feta or mozzarella could be substituted.

Serves 4.

1 cup vari-colored cherry and grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
½ cup diced queso fresco de cabra
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Chopped fresh basil
Salad greens to serve

Quarter the tomatoes and place in a bowl. Add onion, goat cheese, salt and pepper and olive oil. Immediately before serving, stir in chopped basil. Serve on salad greens.

Pasta with Sizzling Garlic Shrimp and Zucchini
Pasta con Gambas al Ajillo y Calabacín

This pasta, called fideuá, has pinhole through it.

This qualifies as a 30-minute meal only if you start with peeled shrimp, fresh or frozen. (I peeled a heap of shrimp early in the day, while sitting in an air-conditioned room watching the afternoon news.)

I’ve used a cute pasta called fideuá, short curls with pinholes. You could use spaghetti or linguine cut into short lengths. Once you’ve got the water boiling for pasta, add some vegetables, such as diced zucchini, to cook with it.

Use tiny bird chiles whole or slice larger red chile crosswise. Or just use red pepper flakes.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon salt
2 ½ cups dry pasta (such as fideuá or spaghetti broken into short pieces)
1 ½ cups diced zucchini

For the garlic shrimp:
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced crosswise
Dry red chiles or red pepper flakes
¾ pound peeled medium shrimp
¼ cup diced serrano ham (optional)
½ teaspoon pimentón (paprika), smoked or regular
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup pasta water
Grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Add the salt to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta. Cook until it is nearly tender, 4-5 minutes. Add the diced zucchini and cook 1 minute longer. Drain, saving ¼ cup of the hot pasta water.

While pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the sliced garlic and cook until garlic just begins to turn golden. Do not let it brown.

Add the chile, shrimp and ham, if using. Stir-fry the shrimp on high heat until they are just pink and curled, about 3 minutes. Skim out the shrimp and reserve them.

Remove skillet from the heat. Stir in the pimentón. Add the wine and return to cook 1 minute. Add the pasta water. Bring to a boil. Return the shrimp to the skillet and remove from the heat.

Serve the pasta and zucchini with the shrimp and garlic juices spooned over them. Grate lemon zest on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

The sauce comes together from the garlicky cooking oil, a little white wine and some of the hot pasta cooking water.

Next week, Menu 3.

1 comment: