This dish was a super easy to execute and may soon replace your regular go-to Alfredo dish.
With the help of an amazing spice blend called Cajun Street by Urban Accents, my delicious and creamy seafood pasta went from ordinary to extraordinary with just a few shakes, Actually it was about a palmful, I love a good kick and spice forward dishes. I added blanched spinach and asparagus to the recipe because they are vibrant, nutritious and tasty, not to mention on sale at the time lol. I sprinkled the Ahi Tuna filets liberally with this spice and a scant amount of Himalayan Pink Salt and cracked Tri Color Peppercorns to round it out, before pan searing to medium to medium well and letting it rest.
I also used a pasta shape that was totally new to me, thanks to the Gourmet/Artisan Goods section of Beals, formerly known as Burkes. Gigli pasta translates to "lilies", because of it's bell or corkscrew shape, with the ruffled edges. It is pronounced 'GEE-LEE'. I found that this pasta cooked super quickly, in about 6 minutes, such that I had to keep a close eye on when to run cold water over it, to stop the cooking process. Be sure to be mindful of when you are cooking with Gigli and other pastas with delicate shapes.
The shrimp are of the medium sized Argentine variety, toothsome and visually appealing to the dish as a whole. I like to keep the tail on for ease of handling and aesthetic. My girls prefer the tails removed so they can just dig in, so I end up removing their shrimp tails before serving them. My mom refuses to eat shrimp at all. She says they look like 'grub worms', hard pass haha. Mom is hilarious, I told her 'Gee, Thanks for that visual Mom, now I get to think about that every other time I use shrimp in a recipe'. No matter which way I serve them, Mom is not having it, I actually stopped trying to get her to come around, and prepare separate dishes alongside the main dishes featuring shrimp. Oddly enough, she will eat Oysters, or should I say the fried, crispy, breaded outer portions, as tiny as that is, with everything at or near the center removed to sit in a small mound that will have accumulated on her plate or hidden away in her dinner napkins. My Mom, I wouldn't trade her for two worlds.....
The Cajun sauce is a real gem and brings all of the other ingredients together most harmoniously. There's plenty of valuable veggies too. The tuna is an added plus and was prepared alongside this dish and I just chunked a portion and added it to the top, adding more layers of flavor and seafood fantasticness, but of course that is a decision you can make specific to your likes and dislikes. I think you will enjoy it both ways.
1 lb Gigli pasta, cooked in salted water, to al dente and shocked, about 6 minutes
1 lb. large raw shrimp, peeled, cleaned and rinsed, tails on
1 lb. Ahi tuna, uncooked and portioned
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into diagonals by thirds
1 pkg. or 5 oz. fresh Spinach, stems trimmed if needed
2 c. half and half
1 c. 2% milk
1 c. chicken, veggie or seafood stock
1 1/2 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. fish sauce, optional
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/4 c. yellow onion, small dice
1/2 stick or 4 oz. unsalted butter
Olive Oil (EV) for drizzling
1/4 c. AP flour
2 tbsp. Cajun spice or to taste, plus more for seasoning Tuna
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste) (I use Himalayan Pink Salt, Fine Grain)
You may blanch the asparagus and spinach in your pasta water for 2 minutes (asparagus) and 30 seconds(spinach) then shock in cold water to save on cleanup and be more efficient. This occurs after the pasta is removed. In the meantime, toss the peeled shrimp in the fish sauce and set aside.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt butter and drizzle in about two turns of the pan of Olive.
Once melted and small bubbles are forming, add fresh onion and garlic. Simmer for about 6 minutes until onions are translucent and fragrant, then sprinkle in flour.
Cook out the flour for about 2 minutes, stirring often, then add the stock.
Stir vigorously to combine, then add half and half and milk.
Stir continuously and add shrimp, cooking in sauce until pink and curled, about 3 minutes, remove from sauce base to add later with pasta.
Add cheeses, onion powder and Cajun seasoning and blend until smooth.
Check seasonings and SPST.
Add Pasta, asparagus, spinach and shrimp and fold until well coated and balanced.
Simmer for a couple of minutes to marry flavors.
Top with seared Ahi Tuna portions or chunks as desired, optional
Finish with a drizzle of Olive Oil and additional Cajun seasoning, optional.
Makes 8 to 10 main dish servings.