Boxed macaroni and cheese is popular because it is quick and easy, all put together in one pot. It is also very unhealthy. I made this shrimp pasta in one pot, in about the same time it takes to make the boxed version, and it is full of real ingredients. Aside: This is one I often make in hotel rooms when I travel, cooking the entire meal in my Hot Pot (basically an electric kettle with a large open top).
The idea is to select vegetables and seafood that is good when steamed or boiled, and cook all the ingredients with the pasta.
Start by putting the water for the pasta on to boil.
Place frozen shrimp in a bowl of cold water. You can thaw shrimp enough to peel the shells quickly in cold water. I add more cold water a few times to speed up the process, so I leave the bowl of shrimp in the sink. Note: I always buy frozen shrimp with shells, because I find they maintain quality in the freezer better than shelled shrimp.
Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. For this version, I used thinly sliced carrots, snow peas and asparagus. Add the carrots to the pasta when the pasta is just starting to soften.
Peel the shrimp. When the pasta is almost cooked, add the shrimp, snow peas and asparagus to the same pot. Cook until the pasta and shrimp are done.
Drain the whole pot into a colander, but place a bowl under the colander to catch a little liquid. Place the pasta, shrimp and vegetables back into the pot and add chopped tomato and green onion.
Then add 1 tsp butter or oil and 1 tablespoon of cream cheese (I used light cream cheese). Add a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to make the sauce creamy. Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil and oregano. If you do not have fresh herbs, you can add dried basil and/or oregano with the tomatoes and onion.
And that’s it. You can vary the vegetables depending on what you have on hand. If you don’t have cream cheese, use a little more butter or oil, and a tablespoon or two of sour cream. I make this without the shrimp as well.
Hint: Make sure you fill the pot with water before leaving the kitchen, and the single pot you used will be easy to clean.