My fast-food philosophy is that if you've got a bag of shrimp in the freezer and pasta in the pantry, you can have a meal on the table in less than 30 minutes. This dish just goes to show that fast doesn't negate the elegant factor; in fact, your family will think you have upped your game and you've barely lifted a finger.

Frozen shrimp is one of the best ingredients to have on hand, as it thaws in just a few minutes under cold running water and can be used in a variety of dishes. And if you think there's a difference between fresh and frozen shrimp in these parts, pay attention: Sure, you can buy shrimp in the seafood case. But have you ever noticed that when the supply runs low, the fishmonger heads to the freezer case, selects a bag and adds it to the shrimp pile? Once it's thawed, it becomes the makings for a fancy dish. You're welcome.

I like lots of garlic, so you can adjust to your taste accordingly. I also try to keep a pot of fresh parsley on the counter so that I can snip into the dish, and even chives add a flavor boost. If you don't want to use wine substitute chicken broth.

Garlic Shrimp Pasta

¼ cup olive oil

1 pound peeled and deveined thawed large raw shrimp (20 to 25 count)

4 large garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

½ cup dry white wine (sherry or chicken broth)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ pound linquine or thin spaghetti

½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)

Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking, then sauté shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes, and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add garlic to oil remaining in skillet, along with red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add butter to skillet, stirring until melted, and stir in shrimp. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Toss pasta well with shrimp mixture and parsley in large bowl, adding some of reserved cooking water, if necessary to keep moist. Garnish with cheese if desired. Serves 4.

Per serving: 587 calories; 29 g fat (11 g saturated fat; 45 percent calories from fat); 66 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 38 mg cholesterol; 594 mg sodium; 12 g protein; 3 g fiber.

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