Fettuccine with Sweet and Spicy Honey-Orange Shrimp

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It's seems a rare thing anymore to thumb through a real actual food magazine.  Back in the day I subscribed to countless numbers of them, the arrival of which brought no small amount of excitement.  I kinda miss that a little.  While super convenient and efficient, the internet just doesn't quite provide the same experience as perusing a magazine on a lazy afternoon. 

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But one of my many subscriptions back then was called "Tastes of Italia".  It was the American version of an Italian magazine and my first introduction to traditional Italian cuisine.  The recipes were often simple, sometimes not, but I still make many of them to this day. This recipe came from an issue back in the 90's and was an instant favorite.  I've been making it ever since, but recently tweaked it just a bit which made us love it even more. 

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What makes this pretty special stuff is how all of these seemingly disparate flavors somehow manage to organize themselves into a beautifully nuanced sauce that is totally killer with shrimp.  The honey tempers the orange and tomato at the same moment that the red pepper kicks up some heat.  The sweet, the salty, the spicy, all so wondrously intertwined with buttery shrimp...just  ever so delicious.

I had a little extra time and decided to make fettuccine, 


but, of course, that's totally unnecessary.  Dried pasta is awesome, and in fact, I'm not sure but that I prefer it here, but it's fun to have homemade now and then.

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And if you're contemplating cooking up a special meal for your Valentine, you might want to give serious consideration to this beauty of a dish...it's pretty easy to throw together, amazingly scrumptious, and just special enough to bring a little fancy to your party.  Might I suggest one large bowl (or platter), centered on the table, two forks.  You can take it from there.  Here's the recipe...

Fettuccine with Sweet and Spicy Honey-Orange Shrimp

Click here for a printable recipe

If you have particularly large shrimp, it's nice to butterfly them by partially slicing lengthwise through them.  They will sort of curl outward as they cook which makes them look fancy.  FYI… 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes brings enough heat to the dish to be fun, but it won’t set your hair on fire.  Adjust up or down from there.

Serves 4

1 pound fettuccine
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more or less to your tastes)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 large shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)
Zest and 2/3 cup juice from 2 medium oranges (strain seeds)  
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
Grated parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil

Liberally sprinkle the shrimp all over with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.  Add several tablespoons of salt to the water and cook the fettuccine one or two minutes less than the package instructions.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water just before draining.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large-ish skillet over medium high heat, and saute the shallots for 3-4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and dried herbs to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the shrimp and saute for 2 minutes or so per side, depending on how large they are.  Remove them from the pan just as they begin to lose their opaque-ness.  Place them in a shallow bowl and keep warm in low oven (170 degrees).

Add the garlic to the pan, saute briefly, and then add the wine to deglaze.  Then add orange juice, zest, salt and honey and simmer for just a few minutes.  Spoon 1/3 cup of the sauce onto the shrimp and continue to keep them warm. 

To the pan, add the tomatoes and their liquid and simmer for 5 -10 minutes over low heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter.  Taste for salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the sauce, mixing thoroughly so all of the pasta is coated with the sauce, along with a handful of grated parmesan cheese if you like. Add some of the pasta water as needed.  The sauce should be a little loose at this point. Stir once more, cover the pan and let it sit for 5-6 minutes so the pasta can finish absorbing the sauce.  It should thicken a bit as it sits.  If it still seems a little too saucy, replace the lid and let it sit for a few more minutes.

To serve, sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese and lots of chopped fresh basil.  Place the shrimp over the top of the pasta, drizzling them with the sauce in the bowl and serve immediately.