Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce, Shrimp, and Pancetta
I don’t know about you, but I always have this (what I thought was unfounded) worry that I’m going to make something too weird or too spicy for people, especially when I’m newly acquainted with them (or know them outside of a setting that relates to food). My worry became reality one day a few years ago when we had our friends R and M over for dinner for the first time. Thai food was on the menu, and I was quite sure that I had everything under control. All the dishes were going to be ready at the same time, the table was set, I hadn’t forgotten any ingredients-all was well. Earlier that week, I had gone to buy some curry paste, but couldn’t find the regular brand I used, so I picked up another brand and didn’t think much of it. When we sat down to eat, I served myself some curry and took a bite. Immediately I knew something was wrong. I racked my brain trying to figure out why it was so incredibly spicy…the curry paste! I made some kind of comment apologizing for the spice, and everyone continued to eat it, but the thing about spicy food is that it forces your body to let everyone know how you really feel about it. Noses were running, eyes were watering, and everyone was drinking liquids to try and combat the spice! I felt terrible for subjecting my guests to such discomfort, and I’ve never used that curry paste again. It’s actually still sitting on the door of my fridge (no wonder the fridge is so full!) Now, when I have guests over, I go for something a little safer for the first meal, like this recipe I’m about to share with you.It’s so delicious, so simple, and loved by everyone I’ve ever made it for (unless they were putting on an award-winning Oscar performance). You really can’t go wrong with anything containing whipping cream, vodka, and shrimp in my opinion. I like to serve it with a side of roasted broccoli or a salad.
Spaghetti Squash with Vodka Sauce, Shrimp and Pancetta* (THM: S)
Makes 4-6 servings
2 medium spaghetti squash
1 Tbsp of olive oil or avocado oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
150 g of chopped pancetta (I’ve also used proscuitto in a pinch)
1 28 fl oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
½ cup of vodka
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb of raw, peeled shrimp
⅔ cup of whipping cream
2-3 Tbsp of chopped fresh parsley
Start by turning the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half (not lengthwise), remove the seeds, oil a baking sheet, and place the spaghetti squash halves flat side down. The reason I cut the squash that way is to keep the strands (which wrap around the squash) longer and more like spaghetti. Bake the squash for about 45 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow it to cool on baking racks. In my experience cooking spaghetti squash, I’ve found the squash to be less watery when I’ve let it cool all the way with exposure to the air as it doesn’t sweat as much. Of course, if you are short on time, you can just eat it right out of the oven.
Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat ( I like to use my coated cast iron pot), and chop onions. Add the onions once the oil is heated. You’ll want to let the onions cook for a good 15-20 minutes so they become soft and translucent. If not, once you add the tomatoes, they will prevent the onions from cooking any further.
Add the chopped pancetta, and allow to cook for a few more minutes. Sometimes I buy pancetta that is already chopped and sometime I buy it thinly sliced and chop it myself. It just depends on my mood.
Once the pancetta has had a chance to cook for a few minutes, drain the can of tomatoes, and add to the pot. Then, add a nice splash of vodka and some salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes. It won’t look pretty, but believe me, it will be delicious! Next, add those delightful shrimp and cook them until they are pink. When you think they are almost done, add the whipping cream and parsley.
Serve over spaghetti squash. You could also serve it over any other type of pasta or zucchinni noodles. My personal favourite is penne because the sauce fills up the little tubes, and then I just can’t stop eating it…it’s bad. I have to make it with spaghetti squash so I don’t eat all the carbs. Doesn’t that look delightful!? You should go and make it now. You obviously have to try it out before you make it for company. I promise you won’t regret it!
*Adapted from Food and Wine, Spring 2002, Penne with Vodka, Tomatoes and Pancetta by Lucy Waverman