Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Remembering Nate and Shrimp Scampi

Delicious Shrimp Scampi, a family favorite
 I couldn't let July go by without making shrimp scampi, a long time family favorite. I can't take credit for the recipe. I first had a homemade version while we were on vacation at the river, one night when it wasn't my turn to cook. We used to go to the river with our cousins and take as many kids with us as we could round up. Some were in college or working, but the the younger ones stayed all week, and loved it. This was a dish the whole group enjoyed eating. Many huge baking dishes full of shrimp were produced in that 60's style kitchen with crab nets and silly sayings adorning the walls. That old cottage on Fishing Bay has become beloved in our collective memories. What fun times we had, and this dish always reminds me of those happy, summer days. After hot days spent fishing, tubing, boating and checking on the crab pots that floated next to the pier, this dish ALWAYS hit the spot. Slice up a few of the tomatoes you picked up at the farm stand on the way to the cottage and YUM, that's a fine dinner! As an added bonus, a pound or two of shrimp can feed a crowd without breaking the bank -- and that was a good thing -- since we always had a crowd. Not only our collected crews, but any cousin, aunt, uncle or family friend who happened to be nearby might show up at any time. We all like it that way, the more the merrier.... (Our family has always loved to get together!)

Our middle son, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly 4 years ago this summer, loved those days on the river. He loved fishing and crabbing, and he absolutely loved shrimp scampi. He was a funny kid with a compassionate nature. He'd skewer you with his wit, but it was so funny, you'd have to laugh along with him. His many voices and accents still ring in the air around our house, as does the music he made with his guitar. Last week he should have turned 24 and it's our family tradition that you get to pick what you want for dinner on your birthday. In his honor, we made his favorite.  (Here's my first post about him and a picture of the handsome young man)

I have updated this recipe a little from the original.  Now I add a some lemon zest, instead of just placing a sliced lemon on top. I also add a little dry white wine, so I can cut out some of the butter that was included in the original recipe. The wine will help to keep the dish nice and moist. Don't eliminate the butter -- it adds a wonderful richness that makes the dish shine. Last night I made my own breadcrumbs, but that was simply because I didn't have any in the pantry. This recipe is very easy to make, and very forgiving. For example, I had a few scallops left in the freezer that it was time to eat, so I chucked those in. Also, since my herb garden overfloweth, I added fresh basil, but dried herbs will work as well.
To accompany the scampi, I made a simple salad and topped a baguette with some ripe tomatoes, garlic and basil, mixed with a little olive oil. It was delicious.

I am sure that Nathan would have approved. We still miss him every day. Here's to you, Kid!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

Shrimp Scampi
Prepping the shrimp, with
olive oil, garlic and lemon
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled, tails off and de-veined
1 lemon; 1 1/2 tsp. zested, then sliced thinly
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping Tablespoon minced garlic (~6 cloves)
8 basil leaves, sliced thinly OR 1 tsp. dried basil OR oregano OR 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (eliminate salt if your mixture contains it)
1 tsp. kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper OR dried red pepper flakes, if you like it spicy
1/3 c. dry white wine
4 T. cold butter
1/2 c. breadcrumbs (you can use Italian Seasoned breadcrumbs,but cut back on the herbs)
Cooked pasta, we like vermicelli or thin spaghetti (about 1 lb.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, mix together shrimp, olive oil, garlic, basil and 1 tsp. lemon zest. Spread the shrimp in a single layer in a baking dish and pour over the white wine. Sprinkle with the kosher salt, a little pepper and the breadcrumbs. Cut your butter into little chunks and scatter these across the crumbs. Dot the top with the lemon slices. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until the top browns lightly and the shrimp turn pink. (Do not over cook! The shrimp will just get tough and shrink up.)
Serve over hot, cooked pasta. I like to garnish it with a little fresh basil, as it's not a very colorful dish. This amount will make at least 6 - 8 servings, depending on what else you are serving and how hungry you are!

Our Nate, about age 15, with a shark he caught fishing in the Bay one summer.
He loved every minute of that trip!


Cat said...

Darn kid! Tom and I miss him every day too.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

My heart breaks for you.

va_cad2012 said...

I will cook this in honor of his memory and because I love everything you write about food and is the heart of life in our home!

Margaret Moyer said...

The last time I talked to Nate it was when I got him into Blues Alley, I wish I had been able to meet him there. Thank you for this recipe, i made it last night and we all really enjoyed it. And thanks for all the family stories, great blog!

Midlo Mom said...

Thank you, Friends and Readers! I appreciate your comments and am glad you enjoy the stories and recipes.