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The Food Processor

Spaghetti Dish a Twist on Scampi

October 01, 1987|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Spaghetti with seafood sauce has many variations, among them a quick, easy and garlicky version based on chopped shrimp. Think of this as a twist on the garlicky shrimp dish known as scampi (although scampi are actually a type of Mediterranean crayfish) made with cholesterol-free olive oil instead of butter.

The quantity of garlic used in the sauce can be adjusted to taste. A mild garlic flavor is achieved by using cooked minced garlic in the sauce. For a more assertive punch, mince the entire quantity called for in the recipe, reserve one quarter, then stir it in at the time the sauce is reheated.

The processor technique for mincing garlic and shallots (as well as ginger or a small quantity of Parmesan cheese), is to drop the pieces into a dry processor container with the metal blade in place and the motor running.

Thrown by Centrifugal Force

As these small pieces hit the spinning blades, they bounce slightly and fall back down into the path of the knives. In a matter of seconds they are minced (hard cheese, of course, is processed to a grated consistency) and usually thrown, by centrifugal force, against the container side.

It is easy to determine when foods processed by this method are completely minced--the processing sound changes slightly. If you are continuing with a recipe, then the change of sound is a signal that the next food can be added to the machine.

This recipe also illustrates another basic principle of using the food processor, which I call processing in sequence. Note that foods that require a dry container and blade are processed first.

Bread Acts as a Mop

Therefore, parsley is processed before garlic and shallots. Then a slice of bread acts as a mop for the garlic and shallot juices, which it automatically absorbs as it is processed to crumbs. A reasonably dry container and blade is then left, so that shrimp can be coarsely chopped with perfect results.

Note that this recipe does not call for cheese--which I feel overpowers and competes with the shrimp--and that the sauce must be very highly seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice so that it does not become bland when mixed with the cooked spaghetti.


1/4 cup packed parsley leaves

4 to 5 medium cloves garlic, peeled

6 medium shallots, peeled

1 slice white bread, torn into pieces

2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled

1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and cubed

1/2 cup olive oil or butter

Salt, pepper

1 pound spaghetti

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Hot pepper sauce, optional

Insert metal blade in dry processor. Process parsley until minced, then set aside. Mince garlic by adding to machine with motor on. Transfer to 10-inch skillet. If desired, reserve some of raw minced garlic to stir into finished sauce. Mince shallots, then add to skillet.

Process bread to crumbs, then set aside. Chop half of shrimp very coarsely using half-second pulses. Repeat with remaining shrimp, then set aside. Coarsely chop tomato with half-second pulses.

Add 6 tablespoons olive oil to skillet and cook shallot mixture over low heat until softened. Add bread crumbs and stir until lightly colored. Add tomato and stir until liquid evaporates. Add shrimp, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss until color turns and shrimp are just cooked. Set mixture aside in skillet.

In 6-quart soup kettle, heat 4 quarts water to boiling. Add 1 tablespoon salt. When water boils again, stir in spaghetti and cook until tender. Drain. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to empty kettle. Toss spaghetti over low heat until excess water evaporates, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Slowly reheat shrimp mixture. Stir in lemon juice, hot pepper sauce to taste, parsley and any reserved garlic. Adjust seasoning until highly seasoned with salt and pepper (sauce becomes bland when mixed with pasta). Warm large pasta bowl or serving bowl. Add spaghetti and shrimp sauce. Toss and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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