Shrimp and Scallion Sauce

serves: makes enough for 1 pound of pasta

Small shrimp make a lovely addition to skillet sauces, because they cook so quickly, barely 2 minutes in the skillet. The trick is to make sure that you don't overcook the shrimp. If you can, start your pasta before the sauce so they finish at the same time. But if your pasta isn't ready when the shrimp and sauce are, take the skillet off the heat.

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup garlic, sliced
12 whole peperoncini in vinegar, drained, seeded and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound small shrimp, washed, peeled and de-veined
4 tablespoons soft butter, plus 2 tablespoons for finishing
½ cup scallion, cut into thin rounds
Hot water from the pasta-cooking pot
⅓ cup Italian parsley, freshly chopped


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. If you are using dry pasta, start cooking the pasta 5 minutes before; if you are using fresh, start the sauce and then put on the pasta to cook at the same time.

Pour the olive oil into the big skillet, scatter the garlic slices in and set over medium-high heat. Cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is sizzling. Scatter the slices of peperoncino in a hot spot; cook for 1 minute; shake the pan now and then. Push the garlic and peppers to the side, turn the heat to high. Drop the shrimp in the center of the skillet and spread them so they're not crowded. Sprinkle on the salt and let them sizzle for 1/2 minute. Flip the shrimp over, giving the skillet a good toss or stirring and turning them; and cook another 1/2 minute or so, until the flesh is just turning opaque. Scatter the scallions into the skillet; toss and stir in with the shrimp, for 20 to 30 seconds, just until they're sizzling. Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and cook until it is melted and starts to simmer, 10 to 20 seconds. Ladle in 2 cups of boiling pasta water. Stir up everything in the skillet and let the sauce boil for only a moment. If the pasta is ready to add turn down the heat to very low. If the pasta is not ready, remove the skillet from the heat immediately; set it back over low heat when you do add the pasta.

When the pasta is done al dente, scoop it up and drop into the shrimp pan. Toss briefly, sprinkle on the parsley, and toss again. Remove from the heat and drop the remaining 2 tablespoons butter on top of the pasta and toss in. Serve right away.