We’re winding down our vacation here in Key West. It’s been so much fun and we’ve enjoyed
some way too much really great food – mostly seafood with a bit of Cuban cuisine as well – and, oddly enough a spicy chicken nacho from a Mexican restaurant within walking distance. #lovemexicanfood. We actually eat a lot of seafood at home as well. My husband makes a mean lightly breaded and fried yellow lake perch dinner (is it still seafood if it comes from the lake?), complete with hand-cut french fries and cole slaw. My Pan Seared Sea Scallops are sort of legendary (in my mind anyway ~ that counts, right?). Today though, I’m all about Creamy Seafood Pasta. We I decided while in Key West, the unofficial Seafood Capital, we I would make it our mission to eat as much seafood as possible. Do you make a Vacation Bucket List when you travel – places you’d like to go or things you’d like to do while you’re there? My husband, well known for his conservative palate and love of all.things.fried. eagerly embraced our my Seafood Mission, knowing that if his seafood didn’t arrive at the table fried, it most certainly would be doused in butter — his favorite ‘condiment’.
We rent a condo every winter in Florida (for a month since my husband retired — before that for a week) usually in the Manasota Key area along the Gulf. Our kids all come down for a few days to stay with us and soak up the sun and enjoy that connection with family. They all come down at the same time so for those few days the condo is full, the volume is up and food disappears in mass quantities ~ just the way I like it. We’re really fortunate to have that closeness. This year we headed south a month early and further south seeking warmer weather because our second grandchild is due in March and of course, we wouldn’t miss the event! Staying in a condo means I get to do one of my favorite things ~ create recipes. A staple in Key West is Pink Key West Shrimp (~ isn’t that color gorgeous ~ it actually looks like this!) so I decided to include it in this Creamy Seafood Pasta. If you don’t have Pink Key West Shrimp where you are, feel free to substitute any raw shrimp or another seafood of your choice, like crab or lobster. The inspiration for this dish came from eyeballing a woman’s plate at the next table one evening at a restaurant. Do you ever get ‘food envy’ in a restaurant or in line at the checkout in the grocery store? I do this routinely.
Let’s Make Creamy Seafood Pasta. . .
Once the shrimp is peeled and deveined, season it with Old Bay. I like to sprinkle it on, then give all the shrimp a good rub. Old Bay is the perfect mixture of herbs and spices with a hint of spice that really bring out the very best flavor of seafood. Stay with me, this is our goal. . .
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Drop in the garlic and onion. Cook 2-3 minutes until the garlic flavors the butter-olive oil and the onions are soft. Take the garlic cloves out and throw them away. Their job is done.
Add the seasoned shrimp, cooking about 2 minutes per side, then transfer them to a bowl for now.
Wine Time. . .
Add the wine to the skillet and of course, feel free to pour yourself a glass too! Simmer 7-10 minutes until the wine reduces. Add the cream cheese to the skillet and blend. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. When it’s done, reserve about 1/2 cup of the water (NOTE: you probably won’t use it all, but save it anyway). Once the cream cheese is blended, pour in the milk, mozzarella and parmesan and blend it all together.
When the cheeses are all blended if it’s too thick add a small amount of the pasta water a little at a time until you reach the consistency you want, then stir in the pasta, followed by the shrimp. At this point, I can’t hold back anymore. I have to grab a shrimp, swipe it through that creamy goodness and pop it in my mouth.
. . .a touch of fresh parsley and you end up with this.
I like to offer a couple of serving suggestions. Today they’re more like go-withs, like the asparagus shown. You could also add about a cup of frozen peas to the mixture or make a salad ~ or you could just serve up a big heaping bowl ~ enjoy.
- 1 pound of shrimp (raw, peeled and deveined)
- 2 - tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1/2 cup of red onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, whole
- 1/2 cup of white wine (chardonnay or Pinot Grigio/Reisling is too sweet)
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan (optional additional parmesan for garnish)
- 3/4 cup of whole milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of pasta water (added a little at a time as all may not be needed)
- 12 ounces of penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
- 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Peel and devein the shrimp, then season with Old Bay.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil, then garlic cloves and onion.
- Cook 2-3 minutes until the garlic flavors the butter-olive oil and the onions are soft.
- Remove the garlic cloves and discard.
- Add the seasoned shrimp to the skillet, cooking about 2 minutes per side, then transfer them to a bowl.
- Add the wine to the skillet and simmer 7-10 minutes until the wine reduces.
- Prepare pasta according to package directions, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. (NOTE: you probably won’t use it all).
- Add the cream cheese to the skillet and blend.
- Once the cream cheese is blended, pour in the milk, mozzarella and parmesan and blend.
- When the cheeses are combined, if it’s too thick add a small amount of the pasta water a little at a time until you reach the consistency you want.
- Stir in the pasta, followed by the shrimp, then parsley.
- Serve with a salad or roasted vegetable.