Spaghettini and Shrimp with Toasted Chile Crumbs

It’s still winter here, and tomatoes look like . . . well, except that they’re kind of round, they still don’t look much like tomatoes right now.  So, summer tomatoes probably sends this recipe over the top, but my mom gave me some heirlooms that were pretty darn good.  This is very quick to make — and dang good. DANG good!! From beginning to end, this took me less than 30 minutes to make.  ( I know . . . I should have used a different bowl for better contrast.  Oh well).


2 large plum tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), cored and scored on the bottoms with an X
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup coarse, dried sourdough bread crumbs (about 2 ounces)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (thank you microplane inventor)
Crushed red pepper
12 ounces spaghettini or capellini or angel hair pasta
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons finely shredded basil
1/2 pound heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 450°. Put the plum tomatoes in a small baking dish and drizzle with the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes, just until the skins loosen and the tomatoes are barely softened. Let cool slightly, then peel the tomatoes. The original recipe said to use the large holes on a box grater, and to grate the tomatoes back into the baking dish and stir. I found that impossible. I just peeled the skins off after roasting and pushed the tomatoes up with a fork. Much easier — mush less messy. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the bread crumbs (I chopped up some sourdough bread in my food processor) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and a pinch of crushed red pepper and season with salt. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until barely al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
In the large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Season the shrimp with salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper and cook over high heat, tossing once or twice, until barely cooked, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the basil and pasta along with the reserved pasta cooking water and cook, tossing, until the shrimp are white throughout and the pasta is coated in a light sauce, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes, and then transfer the pasta to bowl. Top some grated parmesan, the toasted bread crumbs and some thinly sliced basil. Serve right away.

MAKE AHEAD:  The tomato sauce and bread crumbs can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Refrigerate the tomato sauce and store the bread crumbs in an airtight container at room temperature.

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