Shrimp scampi recipe hits the spot

shrimp scampi
Using fresh spinach makes a big difference in the quality of the finished shrimp scampi. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

Recipe from seafood company manager really hits the spot

This has been an unusual year so far, and it’s not over. Hopefully, we are far enough along in the COVID-19 pandemic that folks can enjoy fishing and the outdoors with minimal concerns and restrictions.

The June recipe is usually a fishing recipe, and this will follow that trend, maybe even be better. Everyone likes shrimp, and this will be a variation on a popular way to eat shrimp. Shrimp can be caught recreationally in both Carolinas. Readers who bait and cast a net for shrimp may have some of last year’s fare ready to go in the freezer. If you don’t, shrimpers off the Carolinas have enjoyed a surprisingly productive winter. And your favorite fishmonger should have fresh catch. A third option is to have them shipped in overnight.

This month’s recipe is a simple and tasty version of shrimp scampi. It comes courtesy of Bay Hill Seafood Sales (www.bayhillseafood.com) in Greensboro, N.C., which supplies restaurants across the Southeast.

This recipe works best with medium-sized shrimp

Everyone who works at Bay Hill loves to eat seafood and has their favorite recipes. Recently, the staff decided that while folks were staying home, and restaurants were limited and not using as much seafood as usual, they would offer employee’s seafood recipes on their Facebook Page.

This recipe is from Susan Moffitt, operations manager at Bay Hill. Her family likes shrimp, and she has prepared it many ways over the years. Her version of scampi comes from a mixture of recipes she has prepared, with a couple of twists to better suit the preferences of her family. This is easy to prepare and is plenty for a family of four.

The recipe calls for medium-size shrimp and that may be the biggest issue. Many of the shrimp currently being caught are definitely in the large category, with some jumbos. Do yourself a favor and take the time to find medium shrimp for this. Save the jumbos for shrimp on the barbie or something similar.

Shrimp scampi

This is what I consider a lighter-tasting shrimp scampi. Some recipes become heavy with the butter, wine or garlic, but this one doesn’t. You can taste them all, but nothing is overpowering. If you prefer yours to be more buttery or garlicky, it’s easy to add a little more of that ingredient.

Shrimp scampi should be cooked on medium-high heat in a large skillet. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

Take the time to find medium-size shrimp for this recipe. I would think somewhere in the 25-count range is about right. These are large enough to be a full bite, yet small enough they don’t get chewy when dropped in the hot butter, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Susan Moffitt, operations manager at Bay Hill Seafood, prepares this with both fresh and frozen spinach. She notes this in the ingredients. Simply stated, it’s better with fresh spinach. Yes, it requires a little more time to wilt 10 ounces of spinach, but it’s time well-spent. I believe frozen spinach loses its flavor in the initial cooking, while wilting fresh spinach keeps the flavor in. I like to use a little buttery flavored Pam for wilting spinach. But a drizzle of olive or canola oil works well too.

Add a touch of salt, but just a touch

Regular readers know I don’t add much salt, while often using extra pepper. This recipe needs a touch of salt to suit me. Be careful and don’t overload it, but the taste is better with it. As is usual, I used more pepper than salt.

I had some grated Parmesan cheese and didn’t make a trip to the store for a block to grate. This worked pretty well. But it wasn’t quite the same as fresh grated cheese. If you make a shopping list for this, get a block of Parmesan to grate.

It must be the linguine, but I believe any leftovers taste better. The flavor doesn’t get stronger, but it’s a bit richer. The conclusion is the linguine soaks up any liquid as leftovers cool in the fridge.

A thought about the linguine. Most directions for boiling pasta don’t suggest adding just a touch of olive oil to the water to help prevent the pasta from sticking. They should, as it works and will help you when mixing the pasta, spinach and parsley into the shrimp.

Moffitt said she rarely has leftovers, so she hasn’t noticed this. I prepared the recipe in full for only two people — it will easily feed four — and we had leftovers. The next day, I warmed them in the microwave at half-power, and they were excellent. If you warm these and many other leftovers in a microwave, the lower power setting is the trick. It just warms them and doesn’t cook them further or make them tough and chewy. You probably won’t have much for leftovers, but if you do, give this a try.

Enjoy!

Tip! Warm leftover scampi in microwave on low power setting. It will keep shrimp from being tough or chewy.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound medium shrimp
8 ounces linguine
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more, to taste

10 ounces fresh or frozen spinach/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Tip! Adding a drop or two of olive oil to boiling pasta will prevent the pasta from sticking.

PREPARATION: Serves 4

Peel and de-vein the shrimp and mince the garlic. Cook the pasta according to instructions on the package, drain well and set aside. Sauté fresh spinach until wilted or cook frozen spinach until thoroughly hot.

In a separate, large skillet, melt butter at medium high heat, then add shrimp, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook the shrimp until pink — about 2 to 3 minutes — stirring occasionally. Stir in wine and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Bring the shrimp, butter, wine and lemon to a simmer and remove it from the heat. Quickly stir in pasta, spinach, lemon zest and parsley.

Serve immediately sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Jerry Dilsaver
About Jerry Dilsaver 1174 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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