This recipe is a fusion of flavors and ingredients. Rice noodles, chiles and shrimp? Delicious!
I often find myself trying to explain to people that not all Mexican food is spicy. This recipe is meant to be spicy because that is the way I like it, but it certainly could be milder. That is the great thing about recipes and cooking, making a recipe your own and adding what you like. You can even vary the chiles. If chile de arbol is not available, try 2 to 3 chipotles in adobo or pickled jalapeños blended with the tomato sauce.
I often prepare recipes that cross over into different ethnic foods, such as Asian, Italian or Greek. It’s the latest and most popular thing in restaurants and food trucks. For this recipe, instead of the typical long-grain rice or wheat pasta, I added some Asian spaghetti-style rice noodles. They hold up better and never get mushy when added to a dish. And instead of pasta sauce, why not add one of your favorite homemade salsa recipes? The idea is to have fun while you cook and to enjoy the experience. It’s like coloring outside the lines to create your own signature art.
Season the clean shrimp with salt, pepper. oregano, lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside.
Heat a comal or medium skillet to medium heat. Add the chile de arbol and toast for 5 to 6 minutes. As soon as it becomes aromatic, flip or stir the chiles so they don’t burn. Burnt chiles will taste bitter. Remove from heat and transfer to blender. Add the tomato sauce. garlic, oregano, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Blend on high until smooth. If you are not sure of the spice level, add a just a few chile de arbol at a time and then blend in between, adding more to taste. Set aside.
In a large skillet, preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat for a few minutes. Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes per side, removing from hot pan as they cook. To that same pan, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Add the zucchini, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the salsa from the blender into pan with zucchini. Stir well to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp back in and cook for 1 minute. Toss in the cooked pasta. Garnish with a little more crushed oregano and lemon wedges or slices. Serve right away.
If you still wanted to use the chile de arbol, but not toast it, just add the peppers to some boiling water and cook for 10 minutes until they soften. Blend as directed with tomato sauce.
This salsa is a recipe my Mom prepared often for beef tacos, but it works well as a spicy pasta sauce as well. The flavor will improve the longer it sits. Make it the day before you prepare your pasta recipe.
When preparing a recipe with several layers, such as this recipe or stir-fry, it’s always a good idea to cook the meat or seafood first. It adds great seared-in flavor.
Check out the Asian aisle in your local market for different options to regular pasta. This spaghetti-style rice noodle is easy to cook and never gets mushy like other pastas. Just follow directions on package on how to cook the rice noodles.