Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Casserole

This is one my most favorite casseroles. I love shrimp and I love white sauce. Combine it with pasta, mixed veggies and you've got a solid meal!
This recipe is inspired from a mix of two recipes. One from the heritagecook and the other from stacey snacks.

For shrimp:
Large shrimp - 1 pound (1/2 kg) - shelled and deveined
Garlic - 3 cloves - minced
Green onions (spring onions) - 2 stalks
Butter - 4 tbsp - softened
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Ground black pepper - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste

For garnish:
Panko breadcrumbs - 4 tbsp
Canola oil - 1 tsp
Parsley - 3 sprigs - minced
Grated parmesan cheese (optional) - as per taste

Linguine pasta - as per serving nos.
Water - to fill 3/4 of a stock pot
Salt to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp

For Bechamel (white sauce):
Butter - 2 tbsp
Flour - 2 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup (warmed or at least at room temperature)
Cream - 1/4 cup (optional)
Pepper - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

For veggie mix:
Cooking wine - 3/4 cup (I used rice cooking wine)
Green onions - 2 stalks
Yellow onion - 1/2 chopped
Frozen mixed vegetables - 1 cup
Oil - 1 tbsp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix salt and lemon juice with shrimp and leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix all the other ingredients in the shrimp section to form a buttery paste. Add this paste to the shrimp and coat well.
Lightly cook linguine pasta in boiling water in a stock pot with salt and olive oil. Drain and place onto the casserole dish. This is your first layer.
Onto the sauce. In a sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth and also giving some time for the flour to cook. This mixture is called the 'roux'. To this add a small amount of milk and whisk so that no lumps are formed. Add the rest of the milk and cream if using. You could also use half and half. The sauce will thicken. Season with salt, pepper and paprika if desired, and your bechamel sauce is ready.
In a separate pan, heat oil on medium heat. Fry the onions and whites of the green onions until soft. Then add the thawed mix of frozen vegetables. You could also use a mix of fresh vegetables. You can use your preferred combination like green peas, french beans, carrots, broccoli, corn kernels. Add remaining green onions. Pour the white wine into this and allow to cook until its reduced and thickened (for about 2-3 minutes). The alcohol would evaporate at this stage, but you could leave the wine out if you dont want the flavor. Pour this mixture into the bechamel sauce and combine well.
Pour this mixture all over the paste in the casserole. Use a fork to shake it a little so that the sauce seeps through the pasta.
Now for the third layer - place the shrimp mixture over this.
For the garnish, mix the canola oil with the panko or breadcrumbs so that its lightly coated but still fluffy. Mix grated parmesan cheese if desired. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Sprinkle chopped parsley over this.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. I had some leftover cooked bacon strips that I crumbled on top as well, so that I don't have to throw them away. It added more flavor to the already awesome dish!

Note: For a simple shrimp appetizer, you can just bake the shrimp mixture alone with the garnishing at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, until the crumbs are golden brown and shrimp is cooked through.
Also the recipe of the bechamel sauce is very versatile and is used in many continental dishes.