Shrimp Pasta with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomatoes

There used to be a pasta dish at a certain un-named Italian-style chain restaurant that I just loved.  It was all I would order.  It had shrimp, chicken, artichokes, tomatoes, and a spicy cream sauce.  The problem is, after I began cooking and experimenting more in the kitchen, many meals from restaurants didn’t taste quite as good as they did before.  (Plus, when you work in the world of chain restaurants you get the inside scoop on their “secret recipes”- often times frozen cooked meats, canned, powdered, and bagged sauces, etc)

Wade and I try to dine at locally owned places these days, and luckily there have been some great additions to the restaurant scene around here the past few years.  We have a Middle Eastern kebab place, a great family-owned Italian restaurant, a TON  of fantastic Mexican restaurants, a couple good places to eat sushi, and even pho. Still, I find myself craving this pasta from time to time.  This is how I recreate it at home, using spinach from our garden, sun-dried tomatoes I put up last fall, and a creamy homemade white wine sauce with a touch of cayenne pepper.  Sliced grilled chicken can also be added.

•1 box whole wheat penne

•1 Tablespoon butter

•1 Tablespoon olive oil

•1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

•1 medium onion, finely diced

•4 cloves garlic, minced

•1 cup white wine

•1 pint half and half (heavy cream makes a richer sauce, but I try to keep it light)

•2 Tablespoons parsley

•3/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

•1/2 teaspoon oregano

•Salt and pepper, to taste

•1 14 oz can artichoke heart quarters, drained

•a large handful sun dried tomatoes, sliced (about 1/3 cup)

•10 oz. box frozen spinach- squeezed dry, or several large handfuls fresh spinach, chopped

•Parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large pan. Add the shrimp.  Cook for a few minutes, until the shrimp are all pink and cooked through.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan.  Cook, stirring often until the onions are slightly browned.

Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half .  Mix in the half and half or heavy cream.  Add the cayenne, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Cook until slightly thickened.

Add the spinach, artichokes, and sun dried tomatoes.  Heat through.  Toss with the cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

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