I never, ever get tired of shrimp scampi, and judging by its ubiquitous presence on Italian menus of all stripes, from red-checked tablecloth joints to high end places with white starched linen tablecloths, no one else does either. Plump firm shrimp sautéed with garlic in a copious amount of olive oil. A crowd-pleaser if ever there was.
But in the heat of the summer (and for anyone in the tri-state region, along with a crapload of other areas of the country and the world, this summer has been a true anvil of a scorcher), anything I can lighten up in my kitchen, I will. (That was terrible English. But I’m leaving it.)
So I took the basic components of scampi, but left most of them uncooked, other than the shrimp itself. I amped up the amount of lemon, and added a bit of hat from a hot pepper. Kind of scampi-ish, but with a fresher uncooked sauce, and a little bit of kick.
Another time I might even just toss this sauce with cold poached or steamed shrimp, and then pile those on a green salad. That would be a fabulous light lunch.
Have you ever noticed that Ina Garten often calls for “good olive oil” In her recipes? She’s almost definitely talking about extra virgin, and she names Olio Santo as the olive oil she uses the most. You can and should try all kinds of different olive oils to see which you like best, and if you get really into it, you might have a little selection of oils you prefer for different uses – salad dressings, drizzling over tomatoes, etc.
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When you are using olive oil in an uncooked preparation the flavor matters a lot more, since you will really be able to taste it, and it won’t be muted by cooking it with other flavorings. And when it is used in quantity, as it is in this recipe, the flavor matters even more.
Some extra virgin olive oils are not that much more pricy than the lesser grades, but some can be very expensive. I definitely have some bottles I save for special occasions, and some that I use for everyday salad dressings, and some that I use for general cooking purposes. Play around with flavor and budget as you decide which to use for which purpose.
You’ll see I left the shrimp tails on in this dish. I tend to eat things with my fingers (just ask my kids), so the tails serve as natural handles, and they also give the shrimp a larger presence on the plate. If you find them annoying, off they go before you cook them up.
More Shrimp Recipes:
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Spicy Lemon Shrimp Over Rice
- In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, zest, parsley, garlic, jalapeño, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 4 minutes until they are pink and cooked through. Add half of the lemon sauce and toss to combine well.
- Place the hot rice in a shallow serving bowl and spoon the shrimp over the rice. Pour over the rest of the sauce and serve hot.
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