Here, preserved lemon is paired with seared shrimp in this easy weeknight pasta recipe. It also features garlic, chile flakes, plenty of Parmesan, and a touch of fresh lemon juice, bringing the full spectrum of lemon flavor to the table. Let me just put it out there, the dish was luxuriously fantastic!
It’s amazing that this silky sauce contains no cream. One of the main ingredients, preserved lemon, adds a wonderful base note and should not be omitted. Then, instead of using an entire pound of pasta, we scaled it back to half that amount for a better balance with the shrimp. Just keep in mind, it may not provide 4 entrée-sized portions (depending on hungry your diners are!).
Back to those preserved lemons. They are a versatile pantry staple with the power to level up the flavor of any dish it touches. Unlike the aggressively pungent and assertive flavor of fresh lemon rind, preserved lemons have softer, richer, and deeper flavors, mellowed by the salty bath that pickles them. While they lose some of their bracing acidity, citrusy aromas and gentle tanginess remain.
We keep a jar of preserved lemons in our auxiliary refrigerator at most times. Which BTW, take at least 3 weeks “hibernating” in a cool room, then a spin in the fridge before they are ready to use. The jar of preserved lemons, at left, was just made with kosher salt, lemons, black peppercorns and bay leaves.
TIP: If you don’t have, or can’t find preserved lemons, you can microwave four 2-inch strips lemon zest, minced, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon water, ¼ teaspoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt at 50 percent power until the liquid evaporates, about 1½ minutes, stirring and mashing the lemon with the back of a spoon every 30 seconds.
Shrimp Pasta with Preserved Lemon
- 1 lb. medium tube-shaped pasta (such as rigatoni or penne)
- Kosher salt
- 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon rinds
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup), plus more for serving
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley, plus more for serving
- Cook 1 lb. medium tube-shaped pasta (such as rigatoni or penne) in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
- Meanwhile, pat 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, dry with paper towels; season lightly with kosher salt. Heat ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Add 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped, ¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon, and ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until preserved lemon is softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until just opaque, about 2 minutes.
- Add pasta, 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing vigorously, until butter is melted and sauce is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup finely grated Parmesan; toss until melted.
- Add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid, 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces, and ½ cup finely grated Parmesan and cook, stirring vigorously and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 1 minute. Mix in 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice and ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley.
- Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Top with more finely grated Parmesan and finely chopped parsley.
Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Gurjar for Bon Appétit