Recipes from the Amalfi Coast

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

Recipes from the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi coast is one of the most traveled locales on the planet. The entire area (a scenic peninsula south of Naples that juts into the Tyrrhenian Sea) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What people do not know is it is home to some of the best food in the world. Since the Middle Ages people have been making use of this land which has delicious apples, pears, and other fruits and vegetables that we associate with cool weather seasons. These are farmed at elevation and terraced gardens on the steep hillsides. The region is famous for its perfumed lemons, and the lemons come in over a dozen shapes, sizes, and species. They are also featured in their paintings, sculptures, backyards, front yards and hotel gardens.
The food of the Amalfi Coast is representative of the ideals of Italian food and what gives it such wide appeal: It is seasonal, simple, and micro-regional. I was in Sorrento many, many years ago and this article brought back old memories. I do not remember what I ate (was not into food so much then) but remember the blue of the water and the small villages set in the hillside. Would love to go back, but tried these two recipes from the area and they were so delicious. The taste of lemon in the pasta was fabulous and the shrimp (cooked with head and shell on) had the taste of the sea. So if you can’t go at least try the recipes!

From ‘Food and Wine Magazine’ May 2018.
Creamy Lemon Pasta
Serves 4
4 qt. water
2 Tbsp. plus ¾ tsp. kosher salt
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. honey
3 medium shallots, minced (about ½ cup)
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb. dried fettuccine
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about ¾ cup)
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
1/3 cup lemons, for garnish
Bring 4 quarts water to a rapid boil in a large pot, and season with 2 tablespoons kosher salt.
Meanwhile, heat oil and lemon zest in a large skillet over medium. Add remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, honey, and shallots, and cook until shallots are softened and oil is hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk in cream. Let simmer 2 minutes.
Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking liquid: drain. Add lemon juice to noodles; toss well to combine. The pasta will absorb the juice.
Stir cheese and ¼ cup reserved liquid into skillet with cream sauce. Add pasta, and toss to coat well. Add remaining ¼ cup reserved cooking liquid if necessary. Divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with pepper and lemons.

Shrimp with Potatoes and Tomatoes
Serves 4
1 lb. head-on jumbo shrimp
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/3 cup)
1 ½ tsp. seeded minced serrano chili (about 1 medium)
2 tsp. dried oregano
13 oz. baby Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered (about 2 cups)
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced (about1 tsp.)
½ cup white wine
3 cups ripe cherry tomatoes (about 1 lb.)
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
½ cup town fresh basil
Using a knife, make 1 ¼-inch deep cut along the back of each shrimp shell from head to tail. Leave shell and head intact. Using a small moistened paper towel and a paring knife, remove and discard the vein. Pat shrimp dry and set aside.
Heat ¼ cup oil in a very large skillet over medium-high until simmering and very hot. Add shrimp and sear until shells are scorched, about 1 minute. Transfer shrimp to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium. Add shallots, chili, and oregano, and sauté until shallots are sizzling, about 30 seconds. Add potatoes and garlic, cover, and cook, shaking pan often, until edges of potatoes begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Uncover, add wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is nearly evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add tomatoes, cover, and cook until tomatoes start to split and release their juices and potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook, turning occasionally, until shrimp are cooked through and tomatoes are soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper; stir in basil.
Divide among 4 shallow bowls, drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and serve.