The original is an example of simple Italian cooking at its best, where a few simple ingredients create an intensely flavored dish. Following suit, we knew the key to making our pasta sing was to coax maximum flavor out of each ingredient. Thinking resourcefully, we saved the shrimp shells and made a quick shrimp broth by simmering them with white wine for just 5 minutes, and then enhanced this with clam juice. We used this flavorful liquid to poach our shrimp and cook our pasta, which became infused with the shrimp’s briny flavor as the liquid reduced. We found the flat, wide strands of linguine stood up better to the shrimp and spinach than did more traditional spaghetti. Baby spinach wilted immediately when stirred into the warm pasta along with our shrimp. To add plenty of lemon flavor, we whisked up a lemon-Parmesan dressing, using the citrus’s zest as well as its juice, and poured this over the still-hot pasta to maximize absorption and create a nutty, creamy sauce. Finally, we finished the dish with a healthy pat of butter and a sprinkle of fresh basil, rounding out and balancing the sauce and accenting it with a hit of sweet, herbal flavor.
2teaspoonsgrated lemon zest plus ¼ cup juice2 lemons
Salt and pepper
1ounceParmesan cheesegrated (½ cup)
1poundjumbo shrimp16 to 20 per pound, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
2½cupsdry white wine
18-ounce bottle clam juice
5ounces5 cups baby spinach
¼cupshredded fresh basil
Whisk ¼ cup oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt together in bowl, then stir in Parmesan until thick and creamy; cover and set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to turn spotty brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in wine and simmer until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Strain mixture through colander set over large bowl; discard shells.
Return reduced wine mixture to pot, add water and clam juice, and bring to gentle simmer over medium heat. Stir in shrimp and cook until just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to separate bowl.
Add pasta to liquid left in pot, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously, stirring often, until pasta is tender, 12 to 14 minutes.
Off heat, stir in spinach and cooked shrimp and let sit until spinach is wilted and shrimp are warmed through, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon sauce, basil, and butter until butter is melted and pasta is well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
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