I must confess a Pasta Sin, and I hope my Nonna will forgive me. Out of curiosity, I ordered from Olive Garden recently, but I promise it was all in the name of research. Since I am all about spreading love and good pasta, I will keep my notes on the dish I tried short and sweet. It wasn’t terrible, but it was very bland. Shrimp Scampi is a beautiful dish, so I knew I needed to give this one a Pasta Queen makeover, and the end result was just gorgeous, just like you are. Since olive garden leaked recipes are few and far between, here's my take on their shrimp scampi!
Olive Garden Shrimp Scampi
- 1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends trimmed and discarded
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, lightly smashed, skin on
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 pound spaghetti (slow-dried and bronze extruded is best!)
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 pound raw large peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the tips off of the asparagus and set aside. Add the remaining asparagus stalks to the boiling water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender.
- Transfer the cooked asparagus to a blender with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and enough cooking water to blend the asparagus into a smooth creamy sauce. Set sauce aside.
- Add asparagus tips to the same boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, until bright green and tender. Place in an ice bath to stop the cooking, then drain and set aside.
- In a large, wide skillet, add butter and garlic. Cook over a whisper of a flame until the butter melts and the starts to smell of sweet garlic, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook until the peppers begin to soften and release their liquid, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring the water back to a rolling boil, then generously salt the water. Add the spaghetti and cook to just under al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, add the white wine to the skillet with the red peppers and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until the wine has reduced by half and you no longer smell a strong aroma of alcohol. Remove and discard the garlic clove. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they begin to soften.
- Add the reserved blanched asparagus tips, shrimp, and a sprinkle of parsley. Add a splash of pasta water, and cook just until the shrimp are cooked through; it will only take a few minutes. Be careful not to overcook.
- Add the pasta and a splash of tears of the gods (pasta water!) to the skillet and toss with the passion of an Italian and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until the pasta is perfectly al dente and has absorbed some of the pan sauce.
- Portion the pasta into beautiful nests, zest some fresh lemon on top, and drizzle with the asparagus cream. Whisper to yourself, just gorgeous, and enjoy!