Pasta with Lemon & Shrimp: An Antonio Cortese Mystery Recipe
This is my first post in a long time. For those who don’t know, I have begun to write mystery-detective novels set in Italy. The protagonist is an Italian American, an ex-detective who now owns an Italian restaurant. He has a lot of family in Tuscany (where his mother comes from), so when he returns, a lot of cooking and eating takes place. People have started to ask me for the recipes of foods featured in the stories, so I decided to begin posting them here on my food blog.
Find out more about my novels at…
This recipe is featured in my second novel, Missing in Firenze, of the Antonio Cortese Mystery series. In the novel, this dish is prepared by Antonio’s Zio (Uncle) Pasquale and Zia Frankie.
Pasquale and Frankie are the owners of a lovely little boutique hotel in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. This is a traditional recipe from that area, where lemon trees abound. It is often made without the addition any meat or seafood, but it is not uncommon for the locals to add seafood of some kind. Feel free to make it either way, or with any other seafood that appeals to you. Buon appetito!
As with any recipe I highly recommend you do your Mis en Place (French term for pre-prep, meaning Everything in Place) before you start the actually cooking.
You’ll be using every part of the lemons for this recipe. The lemons I used were very large, so I zested and juiced two instead of the three medium lemons called for in the recipe. After zesting and juicing, throw the lemon rinds in the pasta water.
Now it’s time to start cooking. This is just an overview. Check the recipe for the details. First, start your pasta water heating. Next, heat your butter and olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Add your shrimp and capers, cook some, then add your garlic. Next add the white wine.
I like to use a high-quality, grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold.
It’s important not to overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery. When they are ALMOST fully cooked turn off the heat.
Cook your pasta a little less than al dente (about 1 minute less than package instructions). Don’t forget to reserve some starchy pasta water before you drain your pasta! It is used to add viscosity and thicken your sauce. Combine it with your lemon juice mixture.
Now, turn the heat back on under shrimp. Add pasta. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the top and toss furiously. Cook one to two minutes until pasta is al dente and shrimp are properly cooked. Platter and garnish with Italian parsley.
Raise a glass and toast those whom God has given you to love. Buon appetito!
Wine Recommendation: This pasta would pair beautifully with a white wine from Campania, such as Fiano di Avellina. If you can’t find one, I suggest a good Pinot Grigio
1 pound pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
4 medium size lemons
Fresh ground black pepper—coarse ground
sea salt (or other high quality salt)
2 ounces butter (preferably grass fed)
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup capers (rinsed and drained)
3-4 cloves of garlic
3 ounces white wine
Italian parsley—chopped (for garnish)
12-16 ounces shrimp—peeled & deveined (and at least partially thawed if frozen)
1. Cut one of the lemons into wedges and set aside.
2. Zest the remaining three lemons into a bowl.
3. Juice those same three lemons into the bowl with the lemon zest. Add lemon rinds to the pasta water.
4. Rinse and drain capers and set aside.
5. Slice garlic thin. Set aside.
6. Chop parsley and set aside.
7. Grind a generous amount of pepper into the lemon mixture. Add salt (start with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon).
8. Begin to heat 4 quarts of water. When water begins to boil, add a tablespoon of salt.
9. Add butter and oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.
10. Add shrimp and capers. Sauté for about two minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
11. Add white wine and allow to simmer (watch out for flame-up!). Turn off heat when shrimp are almost fully cooked.
12. When water is boiling, cook pasta until nearly “al dente” (about one minute less than package instructions).
13. Before you drain the pasta, ladle 3-4 ounces of starchy pasta water into lemon mixture. Drain pasta.
14. Turn the heat back on under shrimp. Add pasta. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the top and toss furiously. Cook one to two minutes until pasta is al dente and shrimp are properly cooked.
15. Platter and garnish with Italian parsley.
16. Raise a glass and toast those whom God has given you to love.