I love an invitation to get my feet under this guy’s table. Everything he cooks is full of heart and bursting with flavor. Naturally he had to be the first Whimsy Chef. In a heartbeat, he announced his recipe of choice, Shrimp Greek Style with Rigatoni. “Whoa, that’s quite a mouthful”, I said. “Are you sure you don’t just want to rename the dish, Greek Shrimp Pasta?” Rookie move. WC recipes are soulful; my job isn’t to suggest a change, it’s to share the story in authenticity. Kyle Looney was the perfect chef for the starting line up of WC, his food story is quite simple and sweet. It starts with the moment where his family came together around the table for a dish so tasty that it was unforgettable. An afternoon of football with his dad and uncle, followed by an exceptional dinner, a meal so great it ignited a love of cooking.
Kyle heats up the olive oil in a sauté pan, adds chili flake, and a couple generous handfuls of tail-on shrimp. The kitchen is getting loud, the music is up and drinks are being poured. Kyle stays focused. He is turning out his favorite meal and it’s going to be perfect. He moves the sautéed shrimp into a large, shallow oven dish. He covers the shrimp with feta and leaves it to rest. Back to the sauté pan, he quickly adds garlic, tomato, wine and basil and allows it to reduce. Once the sauce has reduced just enough, he tops the bed of shrimp and feta, and pops it in the oven to meld and bubble to perfection.
The party begins while the dish bakes off in the oven; refill the drinks, dance with your partner.
In his words: “I first had this recipe when I was 7 or 8 at my Uncle’s house. It was the first dish I can ever remember thinking “that was the best thing I’ve ever tasted… I need more of that.” He lived (still does) close to Husky Stadium. After a game, he, my dad, and I walked back to his home and he whipped it up. Pretty much from that day on it was what I had for special occasions when I was with my dad and now with my own family.”
Shrimp Greek Style with Rigatoni is best described as a medium heat arrabbiata sauce combined with lightly sautéed, tail-on shrimp and tangy feta, then baked off in the oven until bubbly and served over a bowl of rigatoni. This dish is simply perfect for the evenings that pasta is on the mind but a big, heavy ragu just won’t do. The sauce hits the trifecta of flavor, spicy, tangy and savory. It’s a win for all four seasons.
Serve the kids first!
Welcome to the table with the Looney Family. Cheers!
- 6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Rounded tablespoon of Red Chili flakes (don’t skimp on this)
- 2lbs thawed shelled with tail on shrimp (21-25 shrimp/lb size)
- 12oz of President Feta Crumbles
- 1 rounded tablespoon of fresh chopped garlic
- 2 (28oz) cans of Cento Petite Diced tomatoes
- 2 Rounded teaspoons dried oregano
- 1½ teaspoon of table salt
- ¾ Cup Dry white wine (sauvignon blanc is best, chardonnay works well too)
- 2 handfuls of chopped basil
- 1 ½ lbs of Barilla Rigatoni
- 4T unsalted butter
- Pat the shrimp dry and sprinkle w/ 1 t of salt
- In a skillet add 3 T olive oil on med/high and add the chili flakes. Once the chili flakes start dancing, add the shrimp
- Saute both sides until the have color (they will cook through in the oven)
- Add the shrimp and pan drippings to a medium baking dish so they cover the bottom. Top with feta in an even layer over shrimp.
- In the same skillet add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic and turn the heat to medium.
- Constantly move the garlic around the pan until it turns golden.
- Add the two cans of diced tomatoes and juice and turn the heat to medium-high
- Add ½ teaspoon of salt & oregano and stir.
- Once the mixture is bubbling, add wine
- Bring to a boil and reduce to low simmer. Add the basil.
- Reduce the sauce by ¼ on low (will take about 30 min).
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Once the sauce is reduced dump it over the shrimp and feta in an even layer.
- Cook in the oven until you see the sauce bubbling out from the center (25 min).
- Take out and let rest another 15-20 minutes.
- Cook and drain pasta.
- Serve by scooping the sauce over the rigatoni.
- Mix the leftovers with the noodles and eat the next day… this is the best part.