Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lemon Pasta with Shrimp – No Lenten Dissent

Growing up Catholic, we were subjected to a rather meager menu of Friday Lenten meals. There was tuna fish salad, my mom’s tomato-ed version of mac 'n cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and fish fry at the local Knights of Columbus Hall. Very little variety. I never really knew that real fish was ever cooked at home. That wasn’t my mother’s fault: That was just growing up in a small town in the sixties, where there just wasn’t much variety available. (Of course, sacrifice is supposed to be the name of the game, isn’t it.)

Occasionally we did have blocks of frozen some-kind-of-fish but that did little to stir any craving in me. But when I got to out (aside from the K of C) I immediately gravitated towards shrimp, Lent or not, and that’s one childhood love I’ve held onto to tightly. Shrimp in any form.

I made this lemon sauced pasta last week and it was so darn lip-smacking good, I think I’ll make it again this Friday. (So much for variety, huh?) I was inspired by Indigo’s Sugar Spectrum, who was inspired by Smitten Kitchen. I adapted the recipe, though. I used half and half instead of cream, fresh spinach instead of basil or arugula or chives and I added shrimp. The pasta was delectable on its own, but the addition of shrimp was a perfect complement. The lemony sauce is nicely tart but sweetened by the half-and-half.

I just steamed the shrimp but next time (that will be this Friday) I’m going to roast the shrimp first. Can’t believe that as much as I love roasted vegetables I didn’t think of this myself.

Before taking a look at the recipe, a very simple one, read this delightful little poem. I found this a couple weeks ago on my daily newsletter The Writers Almanac and the author was kind enough to give me permission to use it here. Get a chuckle.

Lenten Dissent
by Cherie Lashway

There once was a logger, named Paddy O'Connell,
Who at lunch during Lent, found himself at McDonalds,
And had just settled down to his Big Mac and fries,
When along came his priest, much to both their surprise.

The priest said to Paddy, "Just what are you eating?
In this season of Lent, I sure hope you're not cheating."
Paddy said to the Father, "I'll tell you no lies.
I'm enjoying a Big Mac, along with some fries."

The priest said to Paddy, "I see no repentance.
Because of this sin, you will have to do penance.

"By Friday or sooner, I say that you should,
For our fireplace, deliver a cord of chopped wood."

Now our timberman, Paddy, an overworked man,
Did think to himself, "I don't think that I can."

But early on Friday, our priest, he heard shoveling,
And looked out the window at Paddy not groveling.
And saw with confusion, dismay and disgust,
That the wood bin was now almost filled with saw dust.

He called down below, barely hiding his ire:
"Hey Paddy, your penance was wood for the fire!"

To which Paddy said, rising up from his work,
While wiping his brow and concealing a smirk:

"I've brought you a cord, like you said that I should,
But if burger be meat, well then sawdust be wood!"

"Lenten Dissent" by Cherie Lashway, used with permission of the author

Now for the recipe . . .

Lemon and Spinach Pasta with Shrimp
Adapted from Indigo’s Sugar Spectrum and Smitten Kitchen

1 pound spaghetti or linguine
3 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup half and half
½ cup of Parmesan, plus more for serving
4 cups baby spinach
1 pound steamed shrimp

Zest and juice the lemons – you’ll need a good tablespoon of zest and 1/2 cup of juice. Cook and drain pasta, reserving 1-1/2 cups of pasta cooking water. Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, half and half, zest and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat. Return pasta to pot and stir until coated. Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss everything together. Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the noodles are nice and loose. Add remaining lemon juice, then toss in spinach leaves until wilted.  Add the shrimp and toss again.

Have more cheese on hand to sprinkle on the served plates.


  1. I love what you have added! thanks so much for the shout out, I am glad you enjoyed it too!

  2. All right - I have dinner for tomorrow. Love the shrimp in it and just a wee bit of half and half. It wuill coat nicely without drowning the pasta. The limerick brought smiles.

  3. One of our all time favorites, you can beat this dish... amazing flavors always a best bet yours looks wonderful!

  4. OH ggodnees I love this post, lent for us was pretty boring also..when I first began cooking for lent it was shrimp scampi every friday!! to this day it is my hubby's fav meal!! love the poem!!


  5. Loving both the shrimp and spinach in this dish.

  6. I am seeing lemons everywhere! And I've seen a lot of lemon pasta lately- you're looks FABULOUS!! I must try some lemony pasta soon! ♥- K

  7. I'll have to try this one, love lemon sauces!

  8. My hubby asked for tuna casserole this Friday...I just couldn't bring myself to make it. We're having pizza instead, but this looks like a top choice for next Friday! Lovely!

  9. Great pasta dish. I love any pasta with seafood. Great combination.
    Regarding the poem :)))) so true.
    Have a nice day. Kisses.

  10. That's the beauty of pasta . . . add a little butter or olive oil, add some cream or half and half, add some veggies, add a protein if desired and WA LAH!!! A perfect meal! I can't quite recall very well what we ate on Fridays in my Catholic family. I think we ate a LOT of cheese pizzas and fish sticks. My mom was a lazy weekday cook, but a fab Sunday and holiday cook. But I still respect this Lenten tradition and quite honestly have reduced meat in my diet greatly as a result. So much healthier to eat more fish, veggies, and pasta! Your recipe exemplifies this perfectly!

  11. Shrimp sounds like a wonderful addition to that lemon pasta. The two flavors go so well together.

  12. I've had a few unappealing Lenten meals myself and I really like your take on Fish on Fridays. If I had been given this lovely lemony pasta as a Friday fish dish, I'd have been happy. Cherie's poem puts it in perspective :D

  13. What a hilarious poem and the pasta looks delicious! I love lemons and seafood!

  14. I love both of the blogs you mentioned, so this is bound to be delicious!

  15. Oh, that Paddy! Brought a smile to my face. And, yes, let's brighten up those Friday lenten meals - yours sounds terrific. I'll take it either way, steamed or roasted, please. (Ah, I picked up how you credited both blogs, I'll remember that if that comes up.)

  16. Such a cute Lenten poem. Loved reading your post!
    I often make linguine with shrimp, and lemon. Your version of this delicious seafood dish is a welcome any day...lent...or not:DDD

  17. Don't you love the Writer's Almanac? And don't you love seafood? This looks so good. Thank you for sharing with me tonight, my sweet friend. I hope that you have a wonderful week full of laughter, love and good food. As always, I'm leaving tonight feeling inspired by your creativity and kindness.

  18. great recipe I came over from the lovely Claudia's blog and I will follow as Claudia knows good food :-)

  19. What a hilarious poem! And I love the pasta recipe... citrus sauces are great! Thanks for sharing :)

  20. Hi Rosemary, I tagged you in the Easter Menu Tag Game, check out my last post to find out details, but don't feel obligated I know it's a busy time. Happy Easter!

  21. This looks fantastic! So glad to be your newest follower! :)


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