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What's the line between a delightfully simple pasta dish and a boringly spare one? For some reason, my first impulse is to toss everything I've got in the pot and hope it becomes a dynamic dish, but that almost never works. All of my favorite pasta dishes tend to be straightforward—carbonara, all'amatriciana—where you pick out a few flavorful ingredients and let them do all the hard work. That's what I tried to do here.
One bite of this dish proves that there is a lot going on. At its base, this dish is about the interplay between sweet, plump shrimp and spicy red pepper flakes. The latter is cooked with sliced garlic until it perfumes the oil, so that every bite has its slight spark. Sure, the duo makes for a good start, but it's not quite enough to carry the whole dish. Add arugula for some bitterness and for some crunch, sprinkle in some bread crumbs, which are cooked gently until they turn golden brown and crispy.
Just to add that all up, the result is spicy, sweet, bitter, and salty—not bad for such a quick and easy meal.