Cooking Column: Basic shrimp scampi

Cooking Column: Basic shrimp scampi

It’s my firm belief that there are certain dishes everyone should know how to make. I’m not talking about grilled cheese or scrambled eggs or anything like that – those are "Cooking 101: How to Not Starve" dishes. I’m talking about knowing how to make a dish that you could serve to your significant other’s parents without embarrassment. It's the kind of cooking that’s easy but still makes you feel like competent adult. 

For me, that go-to dish is shrimp scampi. It’s a dish that’s so simple to make, yet it just sounds slightly fancy. My mom would make scampi all the time when I was younger and she needed a quick dinner. She actually used chicken in hers, which I do sometimes; but I prefer the shrimp version if I’m being honest. 

The dish really boils down to three ingredients: shrimp, pasta and butter. Everything else is just for taste and garnish. A little lemon juice or a freshly squeezed lemon and some parsley add some flavor to an otherwise plain dish. I decided to use fresh parsley for the first time this week instead of buying parsley flakes in the spices aisle. It ended up being a cheaper alternative actually, which I was kind of surprised by. 

The prep for the dish takes longer than the actual cooking, especially if you’re using fresh herbs and unprepared shrimp. You can also use fresh or frozen shrimp for this, depending on much work you want to put in. Before you cook the shrimp don’t forget to peel, devein and/or take the tails off.

Making the scampi really only requires about 10 minutes of your time once the water boils. Angel hair pasta is so thin, so it only takes about four minutes to cook and the shrimp doesn’t take to long either. Once you’ve seasoned the shrimp with salt and pepper to your taste, throw it into a pan with some melted butter and cook it for a few minutes before adding the other spices and lemon juice. Then, after the shrimp and pasta are prepared, just toss them together in a bowl and serve. 

This really is a very simple recipe with very simple prep. Personally, it also has the added bonus of reminding me of helping my mom with meal prep, whether it was cutting up chicken for her scampi, or coming home from school and peeling the shrimp to throw into her slow cooker jambalaya. But even if you don’t have my nostalgic attachment, this is still a good recipe to have in your back pocket for when you want something more than microwave dinners or grilled cheese.

What You’ll Need:

2 tablespoons of butter

1 pound of shrimp, prepped and/or thawed

Salt and pepper 

1 tablespoon of garlic salt 

2 tablespoons of lemon juice or ½ lemon freshly squeezed 

⅓ cup water 

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or parsley flakes 

Grated parmesan cheese

8 ounces (½ a box) or angel hair pasta 

How to make it:

In a large pot, boil water and prepare pasta according to package directions. Set pasta aside when done. 

Over medium high heat, melt butter in a large skillet. 

Add shrimp, salt and pepper and garlic salt to skillet and cook for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add in lemon juice and water, and bring to a simmer. 

Then add parsley and cheese. 

Remove from heat and toss with the pasta, adding more cheese and parsley on top if desired. 

Serve and enjoy!

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