I’ve talked before about how much I love my America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. At the risk of repeating myself, which has been pointed out by my children that I frequently do, I must say that I have never made a recipe from this book or the PBS show of the same name that hasn’t been really great.
The other day I happened to catch an episode of the TV show, and on this particular day they were preparing a recipe for Spanish-Style Toasted Pasta and Shrimp. This dish is a combination of toasted pasta (known as fideo in Spanish cooking), tomatoes, smoked paprika, and shrimp all cooked in a flavorful broth. Not only was it mouthwatering, but it so happened that this was just the type of recipe that I had been searching for.
You see a week or so ago the folks at Better Than Bouillon asked if I’d like to review a couple of their products and give some away to my readers. Having been fond of their premium and organic products for years now, I of course said yes, so the search was on for a brothy recipe to showcase their products.
Up until this communication with them, I thought that they made only chicken, beef, ham, and vegetable bases. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they make 26 soup bases in all with flavors like au jus, chili, mushroom, turkey, and fish, to name just a few. Many of these flavors are also available in vegan, organic, low-sodium, and kosher. To learn more about this line of products, click here to access their site.
When they asked me what flavors I’d like to try, I decided to step out of my box and cook with some of the ones I wouldn’t normally have in my pantry like the fish and no chicken. It is not that I don’t like fish, I just don’t like fishy fish and have been burned so many times that I am really quite shy, and if I’m being quite honest, I would probably never buy it. As for the no chicken, I was really anxious to just check out the flavor and report to my vegetarian friends that there is a new (to me) product that they can play with.
So this is where the ATK recipe comes in. This recipe claimed to have an easy preparation, just a few ingredients, rich Spanish flavors and almost 4 cups of broth. The original recipe calls for the broth to be made from shrimp shells cooked in chicken stock, but I’m letting the Better Than Bouillon fish base stand-in in its place because besides the fact I wanted to try it, I really didn’t want my house smelling like shrimp all night.
Well, preparing this recipe looked pretty fast and easy on television. In reality, it does take a little time to clean the shrimp and get them ready to go, but once that is done things do take shape pretty quickly. On the show they claimed that this would be a great Tuesday night dinner, which is true if you are an experienced and organized cook. Otherwise, save this one for a time when you aren’t tired from a day’s work and have a few extra minutes to spare, but do yourself a favor, make it, and make it soon because it is delicious.
As for the Better Than Bouillon, the fish base receives two enthusiastic thumbs up, even from a fish shy girl like me. It has a pleasant and subtle flavor that is really the perfect base for dishes like this or soups and chowders. I love it and will be keeping it on hand from now on. This just might be a whole new beginning for fish and me.
I’m sad to say that my jar of no chicken was a casualty of the United States Postal Service and a replacement didn’t make it in time for this post, but when it does arrive I’ll be sure and let you know what I think.
Spanish- Style Toasted Pasta and Shrimp (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced (1 tablespoon)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined, shells reserved
- 2 3/4 cups water
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I used 3 teaspoons BTB fish base and 1 teaspoon chicken base since I wasn’t making stock from the shrimp shells)
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 ounces spaghetti or thin spaghetti, broken into 1- to 2-inch lengths
- 1 onion, chopped fine1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped fine (I used petite diced)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (I omitted this)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (I substituted chopped green onion tops)
- Lemon wedges
Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1/4 salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium size bowl. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
At this point I deviated from ATK and added 3 teaspoons BTB fish base and 1 teaspoon BTB chicken base to the water called for to steep the shrimp shells, with 1 large bay leaf. I brought this mixture to a simmer, covered and let it cook until I was ready to use it, removing the bay leaf before adding the broth to the pasta.
Toss spaghetti and 2 teaspoons oil in broiler-safe 12-inch skillet until spaghetti is evenly coated. Toast spaghetti over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and nutty in aroma (spaghetti should be color of peanut butter), 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer spaghetti to bowl. Wipe out skillet with paper towel.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and beginning to brown around edges, 4 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, dry, and slightly darkened in color, 4 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining garlic, and paprikas. Cook until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add spaghetti and stir to combine.
Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer (if boiling the shrimp shells, if not add the broth) into skillet. Add wine, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is slightly thickened and spaghetti is just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Preheat broiler about halfway through cooking time.
Scatter shrimp over spaghetti and stir shrimp into spaghetti to partially submerge. Transfer skillet to oven and broil about 6 inches under broiler element until shrimp are opaque and surface of spaghetti is dry with crisped, browned spots, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
On the TV show, they served this with a homemade aioli which I plan on trying next time. In the print version they suggest serving it with chopped parsley and lemon wedges. I didn’t have either but found it to be great with some chopped green onion tops.
*To see America’s Test Kitchen’s original recipe and their simple technique for breaking spaghetti into spaghettini (or fideo), please click here.
And now for the giveaway. Better Than Bouillon will provide two of my lucky U.S. readers with four assorted jars each of their soup base. To be entered all you have to do is leave a comment stating what you’d make with a jar of their soup base. You can earn an extra entry by signing up to receive my posts by e-mail. To do this just type your address into the field at the top right hand corner of this page under the Foodgawker badge. Be sure to leave your contact information in your comment. My winning readers will have 48 hours after notification to respond or a new winner will be drawn. I will draw my lucky winners on Friday, March 15th around noon mountain time. Good luck!
**The folks at Better Than Bouillon provided me with samples of their products to review and give to two of my readers. No payment of any kind was received in return for this post and all opinions stated here are my own.