Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus (Conchiglie Gamberi)
When Pasta Pomodoro, our neighborhood Italian food restaurant, closed it's doors, I went into withdrawals. They had a creamy shrimp and asparagus pasta on the menu that was to die for. It was pure comfort food! In the following months, I scoured the internet for recipes to replicate it, but found nothing resembling the creamy, pink sauce I craved, so I got to work. Here's what I came up with, my rendiiton of conchiglie gamberi! It is absolutely delicious, in fact, even better than Pasta Pomodoro's because now that I can make it at home, no one will ever be able to take it from me again! Your family will love you for this, and I promise you wont get tired of the complements! It takes less than thirty minutes to make, but it tastes like you’ve slaved away for hours! This makes an excellent first course or main dish. You could easily turn this recipe vegetarian by omitting the shrimp and substituting chicken stock for vegetable stock. It’s versatile and delicious!
Yield: 4 servings as a main course
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large shallot diced
- 1 pound shrimp
- 1 pound small asparagus cut into 2" pieces
- 3/4 cup dry vermouth
- 2 tbspns tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
- 1 tbspn butter
- 2 tbspn flour
- 1 pound conchiglie (small shells)
- kosher salt qb
- freshly ground black pepper qb
- Set a pot of water to boil. Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean. Cook according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, get to work on the sauce.
- Add extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of a preheated sauce pan.
- Over medium- low heat, add the cleaned, peeled shrimp and saute until they turn pink, about one minute on each side (maybe less depending on the size of your shrimp). Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. They go from tender to rubbery in no time. Remove the shrimp and set aside.
- Saute the asparagus. The asparagus will release some water, but if your pan is getting dry, add 1/4 cup of water. I like to season in layers, so go ahead and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove asparagus from the pan when they reach al dente. This could take a few minutes depending on their thickness.
- Add diced shallots and garlic and cook over low heat until softened, about two minutes. I like to use shallots because they are milder in flavor than onions, but if you can't get your hands on a shallot, substitute with a yellow onion.
- Remove the garlic and discard.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add vermouth.
- Add tomato paste and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt to intensify the tomato flavor. Allow to cook for a few minutes to take the raw flavor away.
- Turn the heat to low and add the chicken stock and heavy cream. Stir until the sauce turns light pink. Taste and adjust seasoning. Let the sauce reduce for about five minutes.
- Make a roux and whisk it into the sauce to thicken and give it a nice sheen. This step could be omitted, but I'm a sucker for a clingy, creamy sauce so I usually go the extra mile.
- Add the shrimp and asparagus back into the sauce.
- Add the pasta back to the pot and mix well, until the pasta is completely coated.
- Finish with fresh ground pepper, and chopped parsley or basil.