Monkfish & Shrimp Pasta w Blistered Heirloom Tomatoes

I love markets.
Farmers markets, super markets, specialty markets - whatever - you name it, I'm into it.

I spend an insane amount of time in markets sort of milling about, inspecting things and thinking of what I can or would like to make with them. Sometimes I take myself out of an item, walk a few aisle over and see something that would go well with it, grab it and then go back for the first thing.

Often people working in the place will ask me if I need help because I'm sort of standing there, squinting at the shelves while I prepare a dish in my head.

If I make that - what will I serve with it? I could grab that... but what if I made...

This goes on sort of an endless loop. All the while I'm price comparing in my head as well. Which is the best value, what do I actually need vs. what do I simply want.

I was doing this recently while staring at several lobsters, I had a plan to make some lobster mac and cheese but if I made it there would be no one to eat it. Just me, by myself, eating a whole pan – wait, why didn't I make it?!

Truth is I definitely could have made it for myself, but it's so indulgent I figured it wouldn't be much fun to eat it on my own. I continued sauntering the seafood section when I found monkfish. Now, you might think this is a huge departure from decadent lobster to monkfish?! But it's not.

Sure, monkfish are particularly ugly, but you get them filleted and skinned and if we're talking attractiveness meter, lobsters are definitely not lookers. When I graduated middle school my parents took me for dinner at none other than the world class, Red Lobster and I had big plans to order myself a whole lobster. I knew I liked lobster, so I was going to maximize that, no more little tails for me! When they say it in front of me, bright red and next to a carafe of butter, I practically burst into tears. I have no idea what I was expecting. I had seen them in the tank before but this lobster, my lobster, the one I was to eat - it had a face! The eyes were looking directly at me and the antennae were gently bobbing up and down. I was convinced he was alive.

I didn't eat it, my dad took it, gave me the bits I knew I liked and I sheepishly picked at it while I revisited my now re-heated appetizer.

Monkfish on the other hand – definitely dead. Better yet, I would not be the one doing the killing. Also, monkfish are considered "the poor man's lobster". The texture, cooked properly, is very close to lobster. The meat is firm, buttery and quite mild. It's not 'fishy' as some people have issues with and the price tag is alluring.

To help convince you I made a simple and mostly familiar dish with it and given how cheap it is you should be fine experimenting with something new you might like.

1lb monkfish fillet
1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small shallots, diced
4 tbsp butter, 1 reserved
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 box spaghetti and reserve pasta water
1/4 cup parsley rough chopped
salt to taste

Peel and devein shrimp, check monkfish fillet for remnants of tough membrane and peel or cut away. Slice monkfish into 1 inch chunks and set aside separately. Set water to boil for pasta.

In a hot skillet add oil, tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt. Heat tomatoes until they're bursting and the begin to release their juices. Turn heat down to medium add shallots, garlic and white wine to the pan and allow the wine to reduce and cook off it's alcohol, about 5 minutes.

Add shrimp, monkfish and butter to the pan. Stir and cover the pan for 3 minutes. Once shrimp begin to curl and pink flip them and the monkfish, cover again for an addition 3-4 minutes. Add juice of 1/4 lemon and lemon zest to the pan and 3-4 tbsps reserved pasta water. Stir and finish with remaining 1 tbsp butter.

Stir in chopped parsley and serve immediately over pasta.

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