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Shrimp Penne in a Garlic Lemon Mascarpone Sauce

Last week was my wedding anniversary. I can't believe how fast time flies. We have a little ritual, as our anniversary is after Valentine's day, we usually celebrate the entire week! It is our little extravagance and my favourite week of the year. We have gone to many major cities around the world, but never to Italy. Can you believe it? I know! It will happen one day.

So you could probably guess how surprised I was to receive a gift from a lovely reader in Naples!

She read how much I want to visit, and thought how fun to send me the sun! Molte grazie, Giovanna!

She sent me the most gorgeous pennine pasta infused with lemon. Pennine is a smaller, thinner version of penne, available smooth or ridged. You can source it online or from any good Italian food retailer. If you can't, regular penne is just fine. This sauce works great with linguine too.

Having a bag of peeled, deveined shrimp in the freezer is a weekday life saver. You can toss in peas, spinach or asparagus to finish, as I have. It comes together in the same time it takes to cook pasta. Perfect for the busy work week.

This dish has definitely channeled an Italian summer holiday.

Buon appetito!

Shrimp Penne in a Garlic Lemon Mascarpone Sauce

Serves 4

500 g. Penne pasta

700 g. Jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

(fully thawed if frozen)

60 g. Butter, unsalted

1 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil

1 Lemon, juice and zest

1 Shallot finely minced

4 Cloves of garlic , finely minced

125 ml. Dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

1/4 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

125 ml. Chicken stock

250 g. Mascarpone cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

50 g. Fresh parsley to finish

1. Pat shrimp dry on paper towels and place in a bowl. Add half the lemon zest and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to the boil and add pasta. Cook according to package directions for al dente.

*If you want to add some peas or asparagus, as I have, throw them into the pasta cooking water during the last 2 mins. of pasta cooking time. Drain along with the pasta. If using fresh spinach, toss it in on step 7, the sauce's heat will wilt it perfectly.

3. Meanwhile... Heat a large saute pan on medium high heat. Add the butter and olive oil.

4. Add the shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using), saute stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning.

5. Add shrimp and cook for 1 minute per side. Add lemon juice, remaining lemon zest, and white wine. Let flavours infuse shrimp for 1 minute more, only! Remove shrimp to a bowl and reserve, uncovered.

This step prevents the shrimp from overcooking while you finish the sauce.

6. Add chicken stock to sauce in pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium high heat, to reduce a bit. Lower heat to low. Add mascarpone, stir to incorporate. Do not let sauce boil.

Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

7. Drain pasta and add to saute pan and stir to incorporate sauce. Gently heat 1 minute or so. Toss in, (vegetables if adding), reserved shrimp and fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

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