Creamy Argentinian Shrimp Pappardelle

I love Trader Joe’s. There, I said it. Trader Ming, Trader Jose, Trader Giotto. Every. Single. One of ‘em. It’s almost creepy how devoted I am. Just last night, I was at a party when my favorite topic, food (surprise, surprise!) came up. Somehow, the conversation shifted toward my grocery store of choice. Poor, unsuspecting Eric (name has been changed to protect his identity from harassment by other TJ’s extremists) stated, “Trader Joe’s sucks.” This kid didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

Trader Joe’s is the best grocery store there is. Somehow they’ve managed to make stocking up on perishables and boxes of rice the most fun, interactive event of one’s day (or at least mine). Not only is everything dirt cheap, but this mysterious Joe dude is constantly concocting new and unusual products (i.e. falafel chips, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, etc). Every excursion to Trader Joe’s feels like an adventure and any trip to competing super markets consequently feels dull. There’s just enough variety at Trader Joe’s to mix things up, but unlike madhouses like Shaw’s and Ralph’s, you don’t feel lost in aisle after aisle of frozen personal dinners and every brand of bread ever created. Nor are there any of those fluorescent lights that make you feel like you’re a mouse in a science fair experiment, with pupils dilated, as you scurry about frantically considering which kind of orange juice to buy. Trader Joe’s is simple and beautiful. Did you know that there are actual people who work for Trader Joe’s as sign painters? Since when does a grocery store care about art?! Since Trader Joe’s, that’s when.

Back when I was a wee little one, most of my family’s groceries came from TJ’s. I spent my younger years consuming orange chicken, Pasadena Salads, and Tofuti Cuties (before TJ’s made their own, less delicious version called Soy Creamies. Not your best, Joe). Whenever we’d need a special ingredient that Trader Joe’s didn’t have in stock, we’d go to Ralph’s or Gelson’s or Von’s to pick it up. All of a sudden, nostalgic memories of Ritz Crackers, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Jiff Peanut Butter would flood my brain. My mouth would water, and my dad, as vulnerable as I, would toss everything into the basket. The bliss was always short lived. The next week, we’d be back at TJ’s stocking up on mochi and nineteen-cent bananas.

Now, I do all my own grocery shopping, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Sorry Mom and Dad, I’m getting two desserts this time, and you can’t stop me. Usually, I go to the giant Mecca that is the Brookline Trader Joe’s with a list prepared. It usually looks something like this: “eggs, spinach, snacks, arugula, treats, lunch, Tigers Milk bars, rice pilaf” plus whatever Bon Appétit/Smitten Kitchen recipes I’ve decided to take on that week. Usually, I leave with all these things, plus a bunch of other stuff to which I couldn’t say no.

The other day, however, I wandered into Trader Joe’s with Matt. I had my usual vague list in hand, but we needed dinner, and I hadn’t gotten that far. We wandered and wandered, which wasn’t ideal since it was TJ’s rush hour and supplies were running out fast. What we came up with is the recipe below. It’s refreshing but hearty, so it’s a year-round palate pleaser.

The Argentinean shrimp, which tastes more like rich lobster than actual shrimp, is hard to come by at TJ’s because it’s so popular. Make sure to stock up on a few bags next time you make a visit. The Kaleidoscope Chard is colorful and sweet, which goes well with the tangy lemon. The goat cheese ties it all together with creaminess that puts alfredo to shame.

The best part about this meal is that all ingredients come from the happiest place on earth. Don’t believe me? If you’re like our friend Eric, you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Ingredients: (serves 2-3 people)
·      Salt
·      Egg Pappardelle Pasta
·      6 tablespoons Olive Oil
·      5 cloves garlic, sliced
·      3 cups Kaleidoscope Chard
·      1 bag Argentinean Shrimp
·      Freshly ground black pepper
·      2 Lemons
·      Goat cheese to taste

1. Boil salted water and add pasta.
2. In a deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Once oil is shiny, add half of sliced garlic. Add chard and mix to coat in oil. Cover skillet and let chard sauté on low heat for 10 minutes, using tongs to turn and mix every couple minutes.
3. Heat other 3 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet. Once pasta and chard are almost ready (about 8 minutes for both), add rest of garlic to the second skillet. Add defrosted shrimp to skillet and lay each one flat. Then add black pepper and juice of one lemon to shrimp and flip after 1 minute. Cook on second side for 1 minute more and reduce heat to very low.
4. Add drained pasta and sautéed chard to shrimp skillet. Toss with tongs. Add juice of one lemon while mixing. Add a dash more olive oil if pasta seems dry.
5. Crumble in goat cheese, toss, and serve immediately.