Local Heat

A new vendor, Market Day Canele, joined our farmer's market a few months ago. Each market visit I like to try a new item from their small, but very fine offering.

Recently, I bought their Cucarachas--dried chili peppers with olive oil, garlic and salt. They can be crumbled and used in place of chili pepper flakes.

I tried them in a shrimp and spaghetti dish, inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks. Patricia Wells often calls for crushed red peppers, so I anticipate reaching for my cucarachas with some frequency.

The shrimp are intended to be cooked in their shells and served as an appetizer along with crusty bread for dipping in the garlicky sauce. For us, the addition of spaghetti turned this into a quick, Friday night dinner.

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Garlic, Oil and Hot Peppers
adapted from Patricia Wells' Trattoria

1 pound medium, large or jumbo shrimp
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 plump fresh garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon crumbled Market Day Canele Cucarachas (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste
Salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, snipped with scissors

1. Put up salted pasta water to boil.
2. Shell and rinse the shrimp, pat them dry and set aside. In a skillet large enough to hold all the shrimp in a single layer, heat the oil over moderately high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the garlic, rosemary or thyme, chili peppers, and shrimp. Toss to coat with oil, and cook stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink. Turn off the heat.
3. When spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the skillet and toss to coat with the oil. Serve immediately.

Serves 4