Monday, August 2, 2010

Pasta with Pesto (and Shrimp!)

This summer I've become mildly obsessed with making pesto. Okay maybe more like fanatical...Not only have we been getting basil from our Great Kids share but I planted a ton of the green stuff in our garden as well. Did you know that you should pick basil in the morning when the essential oils are at their strongest? Pick the top leaf set after the dew has dried, but before the sun has cooked away their potent oil. Pinch just above the next set of leaf buds to keep your plant producing. When a basil plant has flowered the basil will turn and leave a bad taste in your mouth. Store in wet paper towels in a closed container in the fridge to keep the basil from turning black.

Basil is a symbol of hospitality in India and love in Italy. I would have to agree, the smell of fresh basil is comforting and somewhat hypnotic. I have fallen under its spell...and my freezer if proof of our love.

Pasta with Pesto (and Shrimp!)*
serves 4
Prepare your fresh or frozen shrimp and set aside, about 6 per person. Bring water to boil, enough for one box of fusilli pasta.
In a blender or food processor add:

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups washed and dried basil leaves (remove stems!)
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 toasted cashews, pine nuts or walnuts
1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Blend all the ingredients together. Taste, add salt and pepper to your liking and check your consistency which should be similar to Greek yogurt. The mixture should have enough oil to keep your pesto moist as well as for your pasta. Adjust your seasonings and oil accordingly and let it sit for the duration of time it takes to cook your pasta and shrimp. Add your pasta to your now boiling water. Saute your shrimp in a separate pan until pink and slightly browned. I like to use ghee to give it that nice golden brown color, and it smells amazing, if you'd like add some fresh parsley if you have some around at the very end of your shrimp saute.

Drain your pasta add it back to the pot with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, toss. Taste test your pesto again...adjust seasonings...blend again...add about half to your pasta, use a little heat to help distribute the pesto around. Once mixed add to plates along with the shrimp. A little extra Parmesan on the side, a nice bottle of wine...and eat it! You'll fall in love too...
*I recommend listening to Finger Lickin' Good by the Beastie Boys while preparing this dish!
Freezing your Pesto...
You can freeze pesto in ice cube trays or small plastic/glass containers. I line the ice cube trays with plastic wrap first so I can easily pop out a cube of frozen pesto when the craving strikes. Simply lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of your tray and plop in the pesto. Lay another piece of plastic wrap on top along with wax paper, rubber band and freeze. If using a plastic or glass container fill with pesto and a layer of plastic wrap on top, date and freeze. Now you have pesto for January!