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Speedy Shrimp Penne A quick and creamy creation by chef Michael Smith.

creamy shrimp and penne in a turquoise bowl

Serves 4

1 lb. (500 g) shrimp, shells reserved, each shrimp cut into 4 chunks
1 carrot, grated
1 bay leaf
2 cups (500 mL) chardonnay
1 lb. (500 g) penne
1 cup (250 mL), or so, softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh tarragon
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Sprinkle or two of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

Put the shrimp shells, carrot, bay leaf, and wine in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the liquid is barely simmering. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne until it's nearly tender but not quite done. Add the shrimp to the boiling pot and cook until the shrimp is cooked through and the pasta is tender, another 2 minutes or so.

Drain the pasta and shrimp and return them to the pot. Toss in the cream cheese and mustard. Strain in the wine mixture, pressing every last drop of nectar out of the shrimp shells. Toss in a few spoonfuls of the carrots minus the shells. Stir everything together until the cream cheese melts and forms a smooth, creamy sauce. Stir in the tarragon and green onions. Lightly season to your taste with salt and pepper. Serve and share!

Shrimp shells are usually discarded, but there's actually more flavor in the shell than in the shrimp itself. That flavor is very easy to release--a quick simmer in any liquid will quickly create an aromatic broth.