Saturday, May 19, 2012

Extra Virgin Pomodoro Toss + Shrimp

The secret to the Extra Virgin Pomodoro Pasta Toss is the creative use of all that nature gives is. The ingredient list is simple:
  • Pasta (I used whole grain pasta to make me feel healthy)
  • Two tomatoes, diced, pulp separated from the seeds and gelatin
  • One small onion, diced
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Four cloves garlic, minced (three cloves will be sautéed and one will be used in the sauce)
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Shrimp (pre-seasoned with salt, pepper and pan-searing flour)

The first step to creating this dish is to cook the pasta. I recommend cooking it al dente or just past al dente. This will ensure the pasta will not fall apart when you toss it around in the frying pan later on. We only have one large burner on our stove, so I cooked the pasta first then used the same burner for the frying pan. After the pasta finishes cooking, drain it and reserve it in a serving bowl with a little EVOO drizzle. This way, the pasta will not stick together and you save washing an extra dish for holding the pasta.

While cooking the pasta, prepare the tomato tossing sauce. Add the reserved tomato seeds and gelatin to a food processer with about half a cup of EVOO, the single reserved minced garlic clove, some basil, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Process until smooth.

Next, you will cook the shrimp. Make sure you are using a large frying pan. I used a deep-fryer. This makes it less likely that you will toss the food right out of your pan. Heat the pan on medium-high. Once the pan is hot, add enough EVOO to cover the bottom of the pan. Wait for the oil to heat up (it should steam a bit) then add a few pieces of shrimp. It is important not to crowd the shrimp in the pan. Cook on both sides until slightly browned. They cook quickly and should be done in about 3 minutes. Remove the cooked shrimp then repeat the process until all of the shrimp is cooked.

After removing the final batch of shrimp, add a bit more EVOO to the pan (now flavored with shrimp oils!) and turn down the heat to medium. Now is time to cook the vegetables. It is important to add the vegetables to the pan in the following order: onions, garlic, tomatoes. Sauté the onions until tender, but make sure they do not caramelize. Add the garlic, then a minute or so later, add the tomatoes. Toss those around for about 30 seconds then add the pasta and toss around with the vegetables. Add the tomato tossing sauce to the pasta and toss around for a final minute Remove the pasta to the serving bowl. Top the dish with the cooked shrimp and, voila, Extra Virgin Pomodoro PastaToss!

The secret to this dish was the separation of the tomato pulp from the seeds and gelatin. If we diced the tomato with the seeds and gelatin still attached to the meat, the toss would become soup and the flavors too blended. The secret to a good pasta toss is preserving the unique texture and flavor of all ingredients in every bite. By adding the seeds and gelatin later as a sauce, we preserve the texture and taste of the tomato pieces, along with the onions and garlic. And actually, by preparing the dish in this manner, we impart an extra nuttiness and fruitiness of the blended EVOO and tomato gelatin that would otherwise be unobtainable!

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