Shrimp Capri

Way back in the early 70s, I used to watch “The Romagnolis’ Table,” a cooking series on PBS that attempted to do for Italian cooking what Julia Child did for its French counterpart in the United States. Featuring a husband-and-wife team, Margaret and G. Franco Romagnoli, it sought to bring authentic Italian dishes to an audience who thought spaghetti and meatballs with its long simmering Sunday sauce epitomized Italian cuisine. In a Christian Science Monitor interview, he declared: “Ninety percent of pasta sauces are made by the time you bring that pasta to a boil.”

My Neapolitan aunt, with whom I used to watch the show, enjoyed it as much as I did and found their style of cooking similar to hers.  Her only objection to their no-frills show came at the end of each episode when Margaret and George sat down to sample their food at their kitchen table. “Why can’t they be like Julia,” she said, “and have their meal in the dining room.”

For this post, I selected a shrimp dish from The Romagnolis’ Italian Fish Cookbook, which I believe was their last book and was written primarily by Margaret. Like their other books, its recipes are relatively simple and straightforward and reflect the regionality of the Italian kitchen. I must admit, however, that I was initially puzzled by the title of this recipe: “Shrimp Capri,” since I didn’t see anything about the preparation related to its namesake. Indeed, even the author admits in her introduction to the recipe: “The name probably has little to do with the dish, but at least it brings to mind what may be the most honored little island off the coast of Italy, a sunny climate, a grand tolerance for visitors, and a welcome mat out year-round.”

While some may find the dish reminiscent of a piccata, I find it more nuanced with a counterpoint between the sweetness of the shrimp and butter balanced by the brininess of the capers and olives. The judicious use of lemon, just a teaspoon, adds the perfect note of acidity.

As suggested by the recipe, I served the shrimp accompanied by “generous pieces of Italian bread” to sop up the velvety pan sauce.

Shrimp Capri (adapted from a recipe in The Romagnolis’ Italian Fish Cookbook)

Ingredients

Ingredients

Extra-virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a sauté pan, about 2 to 3 tablespoons
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 ½  pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup dry white wine, approximately
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 dozen Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Italian-style bread

Prepped Ingredients

Directions

1. Flavor the olive oil by sautéing the garlic in it until well browned.

Garlic and oil
Removing browned garlic

2. Discard the garlic and add the shrimp. Sauté over high heat about 1 1/2 minutes.

Adding the shrimp
Sautéing over high heat
Sautéed Shrimp

3. Pour in the wine, raise the heat, and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.

Adding the wine
Boiling off the alcohol

4. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

5. Add the capers, olives, butter, salt and pepper, and sauté another 1 1/2 minutes.

Adding capers, olives, butter, salt and pepper

6. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Adding parsely
Done

Serve with the pan sauce and generous pieces of Italian bread.

Plated

Wine Pairing: Greco di Tufo, Alsatian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc

3 thoughts on “Shrimp Capri

  1. I used to also watch the Romagnolis’ Table and had at least one of their cookbooks. As your post has clearly pointed out, they cooked up some wonderful Italian meals. Thanks for the reminder.

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