Easy shrimp make an elegant meal

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Shrimp are one of those ideal go-to ingredients to
have in the freezer. You can take them out and have them ready at a
moment’s notice.

Baked, broiled or sauteed, these crustaceans make for a snappy meal and happy diners.

Shrimp go well with a huge variety of seasonings and
flavors, and should thaw in less than an hour if you place them in a
bowl of cold water in the refrigerator.

Try pairing shrimp with another go-to pantry item,
quick-cooking angel hair pasta. You’ll have an easy dinner in less than
30 minutes.

Choose extra-large or jumbo shrimp for this dish
because they won’t get lost in the long strands of pasta. I always
remove the shells but leave the tails intact because they make for a
nice presentation.

Some stores now sell shrimp labeled “easy peel.”
These are shrimp with the shell split along the back. The split makes
it easy to remove the shell and leave the tail on.

Today’s dish pairs shrimp and asparagus tips with a
light herb cream sauce and sauteed mushrooms. The dish calls for
cremini mushrooms, which I prefer. Sometimes you will find these
labeled mini portabellas, or what some folks call Italian mushrooms.
They are simply a brown mushroom that’s a close cousin to the white
mushroom.

With most pasta dishes I am on the cream sauce side,
preferring rich buttery sauces. Trouble is, those sauces are loaded
with fat and calories.

The cream sauce in this dish uses a tip from Lisa Lillien of hungrygirl.com — a Web site dedicated to helping dieters by
providing product news and reviews, recipes and inspiration. Lillien
uses wedges of the Laughing Cow brand of soft cheeses in many recipes
for a creamy consistency without all the added fat and calories.
Laughing Cow recently added light varieties to their cheese line.

For this recipe, use the garlic and herb cheese
variety, which has only 35 calories per wedge. It melts nicely and has
a good herb flavor.

———

SHRIMP WITH HERB CREAM SAUCE

Serves: 2 / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes

4 ounces angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti

1 tablespoon kosher salt for pasta water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

8 ounces extra-large shrimp, shells removed, tail left on

Salt and pepper to taste or favorite all-purpose seasoning

4 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup sherry or white wine

2 wedges light herb and garlic cheese (such as the Laughing Cow brand) or 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese

3/4 cup fat-free or regular half-and-half or fat-free milk

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the
kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 6-7 minutes.
Reserve and set aside 1 cup of the pasta water; drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and
olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook and stir until
just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and saute 4 minutes or
cooked through depending on the size; season with salt and pepper to
taste. Add the asparagus spears and saute 2 minutes or until they are
crisp-tender. Transfer all the ingredients to a plate.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the
sherry or white wine and deglaze the skillet, scraping up any bits on
the bottom. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese wedges and
half-and-half. Cook and stir over low heat (so it doesn’t curdle) until
the cheese is melted and the mixture is of a sauce consistency. If the
sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta cooking water a little at a
time until desired consistency.

Add the shrimp and vegetables and the cooked pasta back into the skillet. Toss to heat through and coat with the sauce.

Place in large serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
559 calories (30 percent from fat), 19 grams fat (7 grams sat. fat), 56
grams carbohydrates, 37 grams protein, 605 mg sodium, 194 mg
cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.

(c) 2010, Detroit Free Press.

Visit the Freep, the World Wide Web site of the Detroit Free Press, at http://www.freep.com.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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