Shrimp Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

shrimp pasta with lemon cream sauce | sunsets on the side

shrimp pasta with lemon cream sauce | sunsets on the side

I’m a pasta girl.  I always have been.

I am legitimately half Italian, so I guess I come by it honestly.  But, truly, if I didn’t think my husband would object, I’d have absolutely no problem eating pasta for dinner every single night.

And, this particular pasta?

It’s everything.

It’s rich and filling from the cream sauce yet bright and fresh from the lemon.  The shrimp and vegetables add pops of color and flavor and keep it from seeming too heavy.  (See, I had spinach with my heavy cream.  Antioxidants!  Iron!).

Oh, and did I mention it’s easy?  If you prep a little bit ahead of time – zest and juice the lemons and chop the vegetables, you can totally cook this baby in about 25 minutes flat.

Win.

Shrimp Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce
 
Author:
Makes: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb shrimp (31/35 count), peeled & deveined
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. penne (or any short pasta)
  • ½ cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 4 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. In a large (12”) nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp to the pan. Sear the first side for 3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side until they are cooked through. Remove the cooked shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the garlic to the remaining olive oil. Cook for one minute.
  3. Add the cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until it thickens.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water with a handful of kosher salt to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and put back in the pot.
  5. Add the thickened lemon cream sauce to the pasta in the pot. Add tomatoes, spinach, and parmesan cheese. Stir together to coat with the sauce. Let the mixture cook on low for 3-5 minutes until the sauce is mostly absorbed into the pasta, and it coats the other ingredients.
  6. Turn off the heat, add the basil, and stir to combine.
  7. Serve hot with extra parmesan cheese, if desired.

Adapted from Ina Garten.

Rustic Tomato Soup

rustic tomato soup | sunsets on the side

rustic tomato soup | sunsets on the side

Back when I worked for a consumer goods company, the descriptive word we used to wrestle with the most when labeling food was “robust.”  Like, what does that word even mean?  (For the record, technically I guess it means, “strong and healthy“).

People consistently thought it was a super terrific word to describe food, but when we would ask focus groups to tell us what that word meant to them, the answers were usually pretty hilarious.  It was sort of obvious that we weren’t the only ones who couldn’t understand it in the context of food.

Similarly, I struggled when trying to name this soup.  My first draft called it “Pantry Tomato Soup” because that’s the beauty of this recipe: you probably already have everything you need to make it.  But, that made it sound like an instruction to go to your pantry and get out a can of tomato soup, which…wasn’t what I was going for. I love raw tomatoes, I love cooked tomatoes, I love roasted tomatoes, I love tomato sauce, I love homemade tomato soup.  But, I really (really) don’t like canned tomato soup or tomato juice.  Like, I can’t eat them at all.  What is that?  Weird.

So, I went with “rustic” because that’s exactly what it is: simple and uncomplicated.  This soup is thick, it’s rich, and it’s absolutely perfect for grilled cheese dunking.

Hopefully it even makes you feel robust.

(Sorry).

rustic tomato soup | sunsets on the side

Rustic Tomato Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Makes: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped carrots
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ¾ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until they are softened and starting to brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  3. Pour in the wine, stir well, and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the wine is slightly reduced.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and basil. Stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
  5. Add the cream cheese, and stir until it melts completely into the soup. Garnish with more fresh basil and serve.

 

Penne with Creamy Ground Turkey Tomato Sauce

penne with creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

penne with creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

I tend to write about a lot of rich food in this little corner of the web.  Those types of dishes are my favorite things to eat and, truthfully, cook.  But, I don’t cook like that every day. Otherwise, I’d need to invest in a new wardrobe.

My weeknights are typically all about being good so that I don’t feel badly about eating what I want on the weekends.  Monday through Thursday (or, on a really good week, Friday), I’m always looking for meals to make that are tasty but light.  This dish falls into that category.  It’s simple and fast to put together, and you’ll still feel good about yourself when you’re done eating.

penne with a creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

Goat cheese is my secret weapon when I’m making pasta dishes that are lower in fat.  When you stir it into a sauce, it looks and tastes a lot like a cream sauce, but there is, comparatively, fairly little fat in a serving of goat cheese.  (Bonus: my grocery store has a store brand goat cheese that’s delicious and almost half the price of regular goat cheese.  Be on the lookout; maybe yours does, too).

So, if you’re searching for more ideas for your light weeknight meals, don’t automatically rule out the pasta dishes.  They don’t always have to be heavy.  With some turkey, veges, and goat cheese, you can still have a hearty pasta dinner without needing a nap afterwards.

But, if you want the nap anyway, that’s what winter is for.  You just go ahead and take it.

penne & creamy ground turkey tomato sauce | sunsets on the side

Penne with Creamy Ground Turkey Tomato Sauce
 
Author:
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. penne (or any short pasta)
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium cubanelle peppers, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can petite diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water with a handful of kosher salt to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large (12”) nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook for about 5 minutes until they start to soften.
  3. Add the garlic, ground turkey, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir together, break up the ground turkey, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the turkey is no longer pink. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, and cook for 2 minutes to reduce the wine slightly.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato sauce, bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer – partially covered – for 15 minutes. Add the goat cheese, and stir until it’s blended into the sauce.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, stir to combine it with the sauce, and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese, and serve hot with extra parmesan, if desired.

Farfalle with Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

farfalle with oven roasted tomato sauce

farfalle with oven roasted tomato sauce

Once upon a time, this pasta was a soup.

Well, not really.

Once upon a time, I made a soup recipe and thought, “wouldn’t this method be a great way to make a quick pasta sauce?”  (Incidentally, if you’re always on the lookout for easy, creamy soup recipes like I am, definitely hop over and check this one out.  It’s crazy delicious).

oven roasted tomatoes

This sauce is great because it takes less than half an hour to get a sauce that tastes like you cooked it all day.  And, it’s perfect for a simple weeknight dinner, too.  It doesn’t take much time from start to finish as it is.  But, you could make this sauce over the weekend, refrigerate it, and then just heat it up while you cook some pasta on a weeknight.  Easy.

If you’re looking for something heart healthy, you can omit the cream.  But….you know.

It’s better with the cream.

Farfalle with Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
 
Author:
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. plum tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1” chunks
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz. farfalle (or any short pasta)
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place tomatoes, cut side down, and onions onto the baking sheet and brush with the olive oil (it will seem like a lot, but the extra that spills onto the sheet will protect the garlic from burning). Sprinkle garlic, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and thyme evenly over the tomatoes.
  3. Roast until tomatoes and onions are soft and brown around the edges, about 22-24 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  4. Place tomatoes, onions, and all the juices from the baking sheet into a blender. Add the red pepper flakes and cream. Blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. (I like the garlic to totally disappear into the sauce, but you could leave this sauce chunkier if you prefer that consistency).
  5. Pour sauce into a serving bowl, reserving some of the sauce for serving.
  6. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  7. Drain the cooked pasta, and place it into the serving bowl with the sauce. Add parmesan, fresh parsley, and fresh basil, and toss to combine. Serve with reserved sauce and extra parmesan on top.

Adapted from Taste of Home.