There's a particular pasta dish on the menu at most Italian restaurants around here that is spicy and rich and delicious every single time you order it: Pasta Fra Diavolo. The first time I tried it was at Brio Tuscan Grille, but I've since had it at at least half a dozen other places around town. So here's my way of replicating this simple, understated dish in your home kitchen.
There are a couple of things that will make this process a lot easier. First, get all of your ingredients measured, chopped, and otherwise prepped while your pasta water boils. (No, really, start that now). And second, if you have a splatter screen, get that ready too. Tomato-based sauces tend to spit at the chef when left uncovered. How nice.
Ever since the news that canned tomato products contain significant levels of BPA, I've been trying to steer clear of canned tomato products when I can. For tomato puree, this makes even more sense; you only need a couple of tablespoons here and there, and a squeeze tube lets you use as much as you need without keeping the rest in a questionable tupperware in the back corner of your refrigerator, where you'll forget about it and find it three years later with a layer of — well, you get the idea. Anyway, get the paste in a tube. All the cool kids are doing it.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse's Shrimp and Linguine Fra Diavolo.
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1 pound whole wheat linguine
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely diced onion
- 4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 12 ounce can (or 1 ½ cups) tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ lb peeled and deveined rock shrimp
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water boils, prep the remaining ingredients and have ready in measuring cups, spoons, and small bowls, as appropriate.
When the water comes to a boil, add the linguine and set a timer for 5 minutes (you're just cooking it about halfway). Set a large (14-inch) saute pan (even a wok would work) over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic; saute for 30 seconds. Add the crushed red pepper and stir until combined. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the mix and stir. Cook until the sauce is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes (you may want to use a splatter screen to prevent a huge mess).
When the pasta timer goes off, drain off all but about 1 cup of the water, reserving the rest. After the sauce has reduced sufficiently, add the shrimp and stir to combine. After two minutes of cooking, add the pasta with the reserved pasta water to the mix and stir together. Continue to cook until the pasta is al dente, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and toss to combine.
Serve the pasta in bowls and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.