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Farfalle with a Shrimp Pomodoro Sauce

Mary Anne here. Dining al fresco is one of my favorite signposts that spring has sprung in earnest, and this creation beautifully captures the promise of warm weather staples like fresh basil and rosy tomatoes. It’s a simple repast that tastes as bright as the new season. I’ve been making this sauce in various forms over the course of 20+ years and through trial and occasional error, I’ve learned that when the tomatoes aren’t quite at their prime, a small dose of sugar sweetens the pot. And now that the kids are grown, I spike this brew with a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, rendering a fantastic combo of sweet and spicy in this light, fresh sauce.

PS: Don’t forget to enter our West Bend Slow Cooker Giveaway, open until June 2, 2011.

Farfalle with a Shrimp Pomodoro Sauce
Serves 4

Note: For our friends who prefer a vegetarian diet, this sauce is so satisfying, it’s certainly capable of standing on its own, sans the seafood. In fact, that’s the way I dished it up when the kids were tiny tots!

Tip: Cut the plum tomatoes in half, horizontally. Easily remove ALL of the bitter seeds with a quick scoop in each quarter (pictured at right). I use my index finger, but a demitasse or measuring teaspoon works as well.

1 lb. Farfalle pasta – $1.99
1 large Vidalia onion, diced – $0.88
2 Tablespoons olive oil – stock
1 clove garlic, minced – stock
splash of Balsamic vinegar – stock
2 ½ lbs ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped – $7.04
2 Tablespoons sugar (optional) – stock
Dash or sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes – stock
½ cup white cooking wine – stock
½ cup chopped fresh basil – $1.99
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined – $7.99
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $19.89
Total Per Serving: $4.97

1. In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium flame. Sauté the diced onion in the hot oil until golden, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the minced garlic and a splash of Balsamic vinegar, stirring well to combine. Sauté an additional 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer over medium-low flame, partially covered. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. As they soften with the heat, the tomatoes will render their juices.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Estimate your timing so that the pasta will be cooked when the sauce is completed. Most Farfalle takes about 10 minutes in boiling water for al dente.

5. When the tomatoes are soft and giving up their juices (20 minutes), stir in the fresh basil and white wine. Simmer, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes.

6. Add the shrimp to the hot sauce about 5 minutes before the pasta is done. Turn the shrimp over once or twice to fully cook. They should be firm and bright pink. Be careful not to over do it or they will be hard and chewy-tough!

7. Divide the pasta between 4 dishes and top with the sauce. Garnish with additional basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Bon appetit!