Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bistro Shrimp Pasta

Impress your spouse with this copycat recipe from the Cheesecake Factory. About a year ago, Sharon and I were trying to figure out how to make one of the best recipes at the Cheesecake Factory, Bistro Shrimp Pasta. Well, I figured it out, with little help from the internet because I have not found a copycat recipe to date. This recipe is the closest I have found to the original dish. I can't seem to get the shrimp breading right, but everything else is spot on.

'Parts' List
Battered and fried rock shrimp (optional, see note below)
Sauteed mushrooms quarters
Chopped tomatoes, seeded
Cooked Spaghettini
Lemon Basil Cream Sauce

Step 1:
Quarter the mushrooms
Chop tomatoes into small cubes
Saute mushrooms in a bit of olive oil. When almost cooked, add tomatoes to heat through.
Set aside and keep warm.

Step 2:
Cook the shrimp

The Shrimp:

Rock Shrimp (as much or as little as you'd like - calculate per person)
Eggs, scrambled
Corn Starch or flour (mix with the bread crumbs)
Bread crumbs, seasoned
Butter for frying
Oil for frying

Take the shrimp and coat with egg mixture, then dip into the bread crumb and corn starch mixture. Fry in a butter/oil mix for just a few minutes until done. Set aside and keep warm with paper towels on a dish (try not to cover completely or they will turn into a soggy mess).

If you will notice, there are no quantities here. That's because I simply can't get the shrimp exactly like the Cheesecake Factory. I am still trying to figure this out.

I have used regular shrimp before and it turns out similar, but not the same. Play around with the shrimp. This part of the recipe is a 'wild card'.

Step 3:
Cook the pasta and make the sauce at the same time. (note: DO NOT add sauce to the pasta until ready to serve. The pasta will soak up all the sauce if it sits and the pasta will be fairly dry).

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add salt - this is your only opportunity to season your pasta.
Add 1lb. of spaghettini
Cook until done.

Lemon Basil Cream Sauce (double the sauce recipe if you'd like):
2 TB. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 TB. corn starch
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 TB. chopped fresh basil

*Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, and saute 1-2 minutes.
*Add half and half and chicken broth.
*Bring to a boil, and cook about 8 minutes or until reduced by half.
*Whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch until smooth in a bowl.
*Whisk lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. pepper into butter mixture and cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes or until thickened.
*Remove from heat.
*DO NOT add basil until ready to serve.

Step 4: Put it together
In each bowl/dish add pasta, sauce, some of the mushroom/tomato mixture, some fresh arugula (let the heat of the pasta and sauce wilt the arugula) and toss until combined. Add shrimp and toss lightly. Top will a sprinkling of basil and grate some fresh Parmesan cheese on top of the dish and serve.

The quantities of the final product are a bit ambiguous for a reason. You can add as much or as little as you'd like. Copy the Cheesecake Factory if you have ordered this dish before. If not, you have nothing to compare it with, so get creative and make it to your specific taste.

Note: You do not have to batter and fry the shrimp - sometimes I don't so I can save some time. Frying the shrimp is the longest step in the process, and a hassle. I simply add some cooked shrimp to the final product. You can also substitute chicken cubes if you'd like.

This recipe looks quite intimidating. As noted above, frying the shrimp is the longest step in this recipe. If you omit this step, the recipe is quite short and easy. The sauce is amazing and can be used in a variety of ways.

Happy Cooking!