By Faith Durand
My favorite recipes are the ones I call fancy-not-fancy. A little luxurious, but so quick and easy they might actually qualify as 15-minute meals. Roasted shrimp scampi is the perfect example of fancy-not-fancy – ultra quick, and ridiculously good, with broiled shrimp swimming in garlicky white wine and butter, with parsley and flecks of red pepper.
Roasting is one of my favorite ways to cook shrimp. I like how it gives me a few extra moments to focus on something else, like making a buttery white wine sauce, for instance. Shrimp scampi is easy, but it’s also luxurious, a restaurant-style meal at home; and we all know how restaurants make their dishes taste so good. Butter. Lots of it. These shrimp are roasted in butter, and then tossed with a simple sauce made of white wine, garlic, lemon and more melted butter.
The funny thing about shrimp scampi, though, is that it didn’t originate with shrimp at all. Scampi is actually the Italian word for langoustine and its kin, which are small lobsters whose tails are considered quite a delicacy. These small lobsters are similar to shrimp in their mellow sweetness, and they are often poached in white wine or butter. So the scampi in shrimp scampi actually signifies the common preparation of shrimp’s distant cousin.
All right, enough with the semantics. Let’s scampi, shall we?
Roasted Shrimp Scampi: Serves 4 to 6.
2 pounds medium (26 to 30) shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
• coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
• dash of crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 Lemon, zested and juiced, about 3 tablespoons juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
• lemon wedges, to serve
Directions: Heat the oven to broil. Move a rack into the top third of the oven. If necessary, thaw the shrimp under cold running water. If already thawed, rinse lightly and then pat very dry with paper towels and transfer to a large bowl.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Pour about half of the butter over the shrimp, and toss to coat. Season the shrimp generously with salt and pepper.
Return the remaining butter to low heat. Stir in the garlic and warm for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the red pepper flakes, if using, and lemon zest, and stir over low heat for about 1 minute. Whisk in the wine and lemon juice. Keep warm over very low heat.
Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 4 minutes or until pink, stirring halfway through.
Toss the shrimp with the butter sauce and the parsley. Serve immediately over pasta or vegetables with lemon wedges on the side.
Note: Rather than broiling the shrimp, you can roast it at the lower 400 F to 425 F for 6 to 8 minutes. I call for broiling mostly for speed, since it’s summer, and once you’ve heated up the oven you want to turn it off as soon as possible.