Gambas al Ajillo or Spanish Style Shrimp Scampi

Gambas al Ajillo or Spanish Style Shrimp Scampi

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We are having a locavore type of week – in February. It’s amazing how much progress farmers on the Cape have made in recent years. Five years ago, it was nearly impossible to buy local sources of protein. Now the choices are nothing less that dazzling at the Winter Farmers’ Market in Orleans.

The Winter Market takes place on the first and third Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. until noon in the cafeteria of Nauset Regional Middle School. It’s a friendly and bustling place despite being in the off-season. The Kitchen Genius and I stopped by E & T Farms’ booth first thing because we had reserved some of the locally grown shrimp Ed and Betty Osmun are offering. It was our first chance to try them and we were pretty excited.

We had ordered them two weeks before and knowing how much we were going to love them, we already pre-ordered another pound to pick up at the next market. After we paid for our shrimp, we chatted with Betty about chickens. She advised us to get Red Star chickens because they are egg machines. Baby chicks are in our future this spring again because we lost two of our flock.

With that info tucked away, we visited Drew Locke’s booth next. Drew sells frozen chickens that he raises at Hillside Poultry Farm in Truro. He told us that the chicken we bought was perfect for roasting and warned us that the dark meat will be darker than usual because he raises heritage breeds. We talked with him about the pros and cons of raising our own meat birds and where we might get them slaughtered if we did.

Next we stopped by to hug my mama, Beverly Carmichael, who spins her own yarn and sells it under the name Three Bags Full. She was busy demonstrating the spinning process to a customer, so we moved on to the booth run by Laura McDowell May and her beautiful daughters Miriam and Annalee. Laura’s family raises Highland cattle which yields a lean grass fed beef that we love. We bought a pot roast and some ground beef two weeks ago and a package of stew beef this week.

Our protein search ended with a visit with Tim Friary, the owner of Cape Cod Organic Farm in Barnstable. From Tim, we scored a pork hock to make bean soup and some fatback that KG wants to experiment with.

We decided to eat the shrimp on Saturday night so they would be super fresh. I was leaning towards shrimp scampi, but KG wanted to add an ethnic twist. Our son-in-law Rick is from Argentina. The first time we visited San Francisco, he took us to a lovely Spanish restaurant and we had gambas a ajillo.

That meal became the inspiration for our dinner. In keeping with the ethnic theme, KG added some turmeric to the rice he made to give it a boost of nutrition and a beautiful pale yellow color.

Gambas al Ajillo
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Print Recipe
(Spanish Style Shrimp Scampi)
Servings
2
Servings
2
Gambas al Ajillo
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
Print Recipe
(Spanish Style Shrimp Scampi)
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
  • 1 pound large shrimp (21 to a pound)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil plus
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 dashes red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dry vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley , chopped
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Clean shrimp by removing heads and shells, leaving tails attached. Place the heads and shells in a cast iron skillet with 3 cloves of smashed garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil and red pepper flakes. Place cleaned shrimp in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, baking soda and sea salt. Toss to coat and set aside.
  2. Heat the cast iron skillet with shrimp shells and garlic over medium low heat. Simmer shells for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shells are a deep ruby red. This will infuse the oil with a deep shrimp and garlic flavor. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing the shrimp shells to extract as much oil as possible. Dispose of the shells and wipe cast iron pan clean with a paper towel.
  3. Heat the flavored oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Add tomato paste and dry vermouth and stir to combine. Add marinated shrimp and cook, tossing frequently until shrimp are barely cooked, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately over rice.
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