This creamy-zesty pasta casserole combines shrimp, melted cheese, and bechamel. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2012 issue along with Neide Rigo's story Passage to the Amazon.
- 1 1⁄2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 tbsp. minced Brazilian pickled chiles (optional)
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1⁄2 Italian frying pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
- 2 tomatoes, cored, and minced
- 1 tsp. ground annatto seed (available at The Great American Spice Company)
- 1⁄2 cup minced Thai basil leaves
- 1⁄3 cup minced cilantro
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 1⁄2 cups anellini (available at Piccolo's Gastronomia Italiana) or macaroni
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3⁄4 cup flour
- 4 cups milk
- 3 cups freshly grated parmesan
- 10 oz. fresh mozzarella, grated
Toss together shrimp and lime juice in a bowl; let marinate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add chiles, garlic, and pepper; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook until lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add shrimp and annatto; cook until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil, cilantro, and salt and pepper; set shrimp mixture aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add pasta; cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil and butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add milk and whisk until smooth; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add drained pasta; stir to combine.
Heat oven to 425°. Spread half the pasta over bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish; top with half each the shrimp mixture, parmesan, and mozzarella. Repeat layering; bake until browned, about 30 minutes.