Lighter fare

After the weekend from hell, I decided it was time to rattle some pots and pans with a touch of lighter fare for the rather marvelous change from sort-of winter/spring into kind-of spring/summer. No pictures, alas. I’ll have to work on that a little – it will probably be simpler when I’m actually one of the parties eating the food, since I can just fiddle around with my own plate rather than making someone else wait while the chief chef geek takes pictures of food.

So, Monday evening’s menu was a simple affair: sweet/spicy shrimp, pasta with pancetta, asparagus, and feta, and a nice salad. The shrimp were marinated for about 30 minutes or so in a combination of brown sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper, lemon zest, and salt. While the shrimp were sleeping in that mix, I boiled the asparagus until it was just tender/crisp, then shocked it in some ice water. I also boiled the pasta – farfalle (bowtie) – in the same water in which the asparagus was boiled. Why waste flavor? While that was working, I rendered some pancetta, tossed in a couple cloves of garlic (minced) and let that sweat, chopped the asparagus and tossed that in, then added the drained pasta plus a couple of tablespoons of the water. After gently mixing all that together, it was time for about half a cup of crumbled feta. mixed – again, gently – and then put into a serving bowl, it looked and smelled pretty darn good.

While that was resting, I added a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan and quickly sauteed the shrimp in batches – so as not to overload the pan and cause the heat to drop. After all, we want a good sear on the shrimp, not a quasi-boiled, limp shellfish in the end.

Unfortunately, my dear friend and taste tester started feeling bad just as everything hit the table, so was not able to eat anything. For her, a doggie bag with shrimp, pasta, and a few bleu cheese stuffed olives. For one of my sisters and my mom, full plates. They enjoyed it, and I’m hoping that leftovers are just as tasty as the first round was.

Next up: I have a special request for a dish with artichokes. I was tossing around ideas of what to serve with it, since artichokes alone do not a meal make, and decided it is probably time to stuff some of these magnificent boneless pork loin chops. Now, to decide what to stuff in those pockets…