A big bowl of pasta is what I’m craving today — something simple, but with flavors that showcase the season. Wintertime is the right time to indulge on hardy vegetables like broccoli and cherry tomatoes, and when combined with orecchiette, make the best pasta dinner. Charring tomatoes in a skillet and adding a pat of butter to begin the creation of a pan sauce is a straightforward exercise, yet building upon that to create the right balance of tastes is where the magic begins.
Creating a beautiful pasta pan sauce is not a difficult task and pretty much takes only a few ingredients. Pasta water and butter are the base of any good pan sauce, and in this recipe the charred tomatoes and delicately sauteed shrimp give a boost of sweetness to the dish, before the steamy broccoli and al dente pasta are added. Small shaped pasta are highly recommended because they add nice chew and hold on to the sauce. Each and every forkful will be coated in this delectable sauce that begs for another bite. I think this meal is perfect on a Saturday night when you want something exceptional to eat, but don’t want to spend the whole evening in the kitchen. You can also double the recipe for larger dinners with friends and family, if needed.
12 ounces orecchiette
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 pound large fresh or frozen defrosted shrimp, any variety
1 clove garlic, minced
parmesan cheese, for dusting
oil for cooking
salt for cooking
- Boil water for pasta. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook for 7 minutes, add broccoli florets. Cook for 2 minutes.
- While pasta is boiling, add 2 teaspoons oil to sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. After 2 minutes, add cherry tomatoes. Char tomatoes for 1 minute, then flip around pan to char other sides. Cook for 2 more minutes, flipping tomatoes after 30 seconds.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter to tomatoes. After melted, turn heat to medium-low and add shrimp. Cook on first side for 2 minutes, flip over and cook second side for 1 minute.
- Add garlic and stir. Using a slotted spoon or spider, add cooked pasta and broccoli to pan. Spoon in a couple big scoops of pasta water (about 1/4 cup), stir. Add remaining butter and another spoonful of pasta water, stir until sauce is slightly creamy.
- Spoon pasta into bowls and dust with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!