Up until about two years ago, I was a serious wimp when it came to spicy food. Even a few pickled jalapenos would send me running for a glass of milk with which to cool the agony. After meeting my current SO, things began to change. He had a taste for spicy food, and I wanted to find out what was so great about eating something which I found painful. I gradually began to expand my palate, and as a result, I found my tolerance increasing. After a short while, I was able to eat dishes with spicy ingredients and actually taste them, rather than simply feeling the burn. I discovered that I really enjoyed the flavor of certain peppers and spices, and I have been experimenting with great success.
This is a recipe I developed myself, as a result of having a bag of shrimp around and craving something spicy. Before this, I hadn’t spent much time making sauces with crushed red pepper: normally, if I want to kick something up a few notches, I add a bit of habanero sauce and allow any dairy components to balance out the flavor. Crushed red pepper does not “dilute” in the same way as habanero sauce, and adds a completely different type of spice. As a result, this recipe turned out to be far more intense than I had anticipated… but the flavor is so good that I’ve kept on making it!
A warning to the faint of stomach: the “spicy factor” in this dish is not to be underestimated. My SO eats the most mouth-blistering of Indian delicacies with nary an eyeblink, and even he was impressed with how spicy this was. I have made this recipe with up to 1/4 cup of crushed red pepper, but this is not a modification I recommend to the unprepared. Unless you are really ready for it, stick to 1/8 cup. I promise that it will still blow your socks off.
- 1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/8 cup crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound shrimp
In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over low heat until the butter is melted.
Add the flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Stir in the milk, red pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and dill weed, and raise the heat to medium.
Add the cream cheese, Parmesan, and shrimp, and cook, stirring, until the cheeses melt and the sauce is heated through.
Add the pasta, and stir to coat.
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