I’ve been salivating over “Pasta Veloce,” the newest cookbook by my dear friend and bestselling author Frances Mayes. Perfect for when you want a delicious taste of Italy veloce, or fast, all the dishes in this dreamy collection can be made, according to Frances, “in the time it takes to boil the pasta.” I’ve already tried the swoon-worthy reginette with three mushrooms and Gorgonzola cream sauce as well as the smoky almond-mint pesto. Others on my to-make list include radiatori with fried halibut, fennel, sambuca and saffron; lemon pistachio linguine; clams in red sauce with chili crisp; and classics like penne with vodka sauce.
This particular recipe, inspired by Michelin-starred chef Silvia Baracchi, features a special catch of fresh, sweet raw shrimp. Since the shrimp are diced, the size doesn’t matter as much as the quality. Closer to home, this dish is an elevated way to honor the first-of-the-season’s gorgeous spot prawns from Prince William Sound. In a pinch, Alaska scallops or crab would fare well here. Garnish with fresh microgreens or edible flowers. — Kim Sunée
Spaghetti with shrimp and green olive sauce
9 ounces (225g) spaghetti
8 ounces (225g) shelled and deveined fresh wild shrimp
5 tablespoons (75ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a press
1 teaspoon minced fresh red chile pepper, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup (120ml) sweet vermouth (red vermouth)
Green olive sauce; see below
• In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. While pasta is boiling, place shrimp in a large kitchen spider or small sieve and dip in boiling water, keeping shrimp in sieve, and allow to blanch about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from water and let drain; finely dice shrimp, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.
• When pasta is almost done, set a large skillet over medium-high heat; add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil with garlic, chile pepper and thyme leaves. Sauté over medium-high heat for 30 to 60 seconds, until garlic is just softened and fragrant; pour in vermouth and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Boil for 1 minute to allow liquid to reduce slightly. As soon as the pasta is al dente, drain and add to skillet, adding a tablespoon of pasta cooking water; toss to coat. Let simmer on medium for a minute or two, tossing occasionally to allow pasta to absorb vermouth.
To serve: Spread about two tablespoons green olive sauce on four individual plates. Top with a swirl of pasta and spoon reserved shrimp over. Garnish with fresh herbs or microgreens, some flake salt, and a drizzle of good olive oil.
For the green olive sauce:
Buttery Castelvetrano olives from Sicily are available in many markets and online. If they’re not pitted, it’s quick work to lay the olives down on a cutting board and smash them with the flat side of a chef’s knife. The pit will pop right out. Double or triple the recipe and store in fridge to serve with grilled bread, crackers, roasted fish or meats.
3 1/2 ounces (100g) green Castelvetrano olives, pitted; see note above
2 tablespoons olive brine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
• In a mini food processor or blender, purée half the olives with the brine and olive oil. If using olives without brine, add a little water and a pinch of salt. Finely chop remaining olives stir together with purée in a small bowl. Season with a generous grind of pepper. Store in a covered jar in refrigerator up to 5 days. Note: If you don’t have a processor or blender, you can also finely chop all the ingredients and toss together.
Recipe reprinted from the new book “Pasta Veloce: Irresistibly Fast Recipes from Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes and Susan Wyler. Copyright © 2023 by Frances Mayes and Susan Wyler. Photographs © 2023 by Steven Rothfeld. Published by Abrams.
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