One of my favorite things about recipe writing is how creative I think it is. On Sundays, when I’m making my menu for the week, I spend a lot of time researching, flipping through old recipes, and, sometimes, the best times, following a whim.
These whims (and this whim, specifically) usually go something like this: Orange. Pasta. Always. Cream? Ugh. Diet. Orange, low fat, pasta. Protein. Shrimp. Yes.
It’s a lot how I used to plan out a painting. I used to make my art teachers crazy because I would sit in front of a blank canvas for days and days, not doing anything. I was planning–painting in my head. Once I felt ready, I’d begin and go from there. It was my favorite part about painting, that moment right before beginning.
Recipes, especially if they are done the way I tend to come up with them, could go horribly wrong or they could rock. Either way, it’s extremely creative and I love it. But, don’t worry, this recipe isn’t a flop. This pasta rocks.
This pasta was inspired by this orange pasta and this lemon pasta . Both are divine, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that this recipe turned out great.
It starts with boiling water and orrechiette pasta, like most good things do. Then, in a large skillet I added a tablespoon of olive oil and some minced garlic and cooked for a couple of minutes. Then I added some flour and whisked until smooth.
To that I added about two cups of skim milk and whisked until well combined. I also added some Parmesan cheese, then let that cook for a couple of minutes and thicken up a bit. Finally, I added the zest of one orange, then salt and pepper.
When that had thickened enough to thinly coat the back of a spoon, I added the juice of one orange and stirred to combine.
Meanwhile! On the other burner… I heated a pan with another tablespoon of olive oil, then added some shrimp that I had seasoned with salt, pepper, and just a pinch of red pepper flakes. I also squeezed a little bit of orange juice over the shrimp for good measure.
I cooked the shrimp over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until they were pink throughout. Then I added the shrimp to the sauce.
Finally, right before I combined the sauce with the pasta, I added some basil that had been chiffonade-d? Chiffonade’d? I cut it into ribbons, that’s what I mean.
Finally I combined the orecchiette with the sauce and shrimp and tossed to combine. This, by the way, smelled out of this world. The orange and basil are so wonderfully fragrant. Yum.
I served the pasta in bowls with more basil on top and, of course, shredded Parmesan cheese.
Citrus cream sauce is just about the best thing to be added to pasta ever. It’s creamy and satisfying but the citrus zing adds balance and lightness. It’s the best.
The shrimp was flavorful and a good compliment to the pasta and sauce. I also loved the orecchiette; they’re like little pasta bowls themselves! Perfect vehicle for the perfect sauce.
But back to what I was saying–recipe development. The best part about a recipe that goes from a whim to a comforting bowl in front of you is when it turns out to be exactly what you wanted. That’s the thing about creativity; it’s risky, but when it works out, it’s so worth it.
Here’s the recipe!
Creamy Orange Pasta with Shrimp
- 1 pound orecchiette, or other short pasta (but really, the orecchiette is awesome)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup basil, cut into ribbons (chiffonade–I have no idea how to write that in the past tense. Sorry)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot, then set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add flour and whisk constantly until smooth, about 1 minute more. Add milk and whisk until combined. Cook for 2 minutes, then add Parmesan cheese and stir. Reduce heat to low and season with Salt, Pepper and Orange zest. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until thick enough to thinly cover the back of a spoon. Add half of the orange’s juice and stir. If it’s too thick, add a splash of milk.
- In another skillet, add the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Season shrimp with salt, pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and the other half of the orange’s juice. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Add the shrimp to the orange cream sauce, along with any liquid from the skillet.
- Right after the pasta is drained, add half of the basil to the sauce and stir. Add sauce and shrimp to the drained pasta and toss gently to combine, until all the pasta is coated with sauce.
- Serve in bowls with more basil and grated Parmesan on top.