Wild Shrimp & Pesto Pasta

[Editor's Note: This post was adapted from my old blog website where it all started (hosted on Wordpress) and was originally published in May 2015.]

Food is my life.  Not just in the sense that it keeps me nourished and alive, but rather it excites me to look at or watch just as much as I enjoy eating it. For starters, I am Food Network obsessed.  A spotting of Bobby Flay or Alton Brown roaming around would be my equivalent of a celebrity sighting (other than any of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S characters, of course).  Instead of watching Real Housewives or House of Cards, I indulge in hours of hours of Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen and Barefoot Contessa to name a few.  So it shouldn't be a surprise to you that I've purchased multiple Wusthof knives and purchased a food processor - things many may ask for on a wedding registry - for no specific occasion for myself.  Maybe it's just the adult in me, or maybe I have just become really into the foodie world.

My entire family can attest to the earlier days when I was picky as can be.  I couldn't stand to see my food touching and would send my meals back if there was an unwelcome scoop of sour cream on my cheese nachos (or even just a shred of lettuce, but I think this was a slight exaggeration used to torture me about my earlier habits).  Thankfully, these days are long gone and there is only a small list of foods that make me cringe - mainly goat/blue cheeses and olives.  And then there is my gluten restriction.  But I have made it a point to take to the kitchen to create some of my favorite dishes that I can enjoy even as a Celiac today.

Below is my very own basil pesto recipe.  This pesto is quick and so simple to make and oh so delicious.  One by one, ingredients get added into the food processor.  Olive oil is then drizzled in slowly until the desired texture is achieved.  I prefer mine a little chunkier, but it can be made thinner by adding extra oil.  I also use fusilli (spiral) shaped pasta because it allows extra pesto to hang out in all the nooks and crannies resulting in the ultimate pesto-to-pasta ratio.  All amounts below are a rough estimate as most of my cooking is done through eyeballing amounts and tasting as I go.

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Ingredients:

For the Pesto:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2-3 cups of fresh basil removed from stems & fully washed/dried
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I prefer grated cheese over shredded because of the consistency it adds to the pesto)
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • your favorite gluten free pasta (I use Bionaturae)

For the Shrimp:

  • 4-6 wild shrimp rinsed & fully dried
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt for your pasta.
  2. Add the garlic clove to the food processor.  Turn on for about 10 seconds to allow garlic to season the bowl while getting diced up.  Turn off.
  3. Add half of the basil.  Turn processor on and let basil begin to break down.  Once the volume reduces by about half, add in the pine nuts and grated cheese.   Turn back on and allow ingredients to incorporate.
  4. You may need to scrape down ingredients from side of bowl throughout process to allow all ingredients to fully incorporate.  Make sure the processor is turned off during that time.
  5. Add in rest of basil.  Turn processor back on and slowly drizzle in olive oil.  Continue blending until you create desired texture.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I find that a good amount of salt and pepper is needed to balance out all of the basil and olive oil.  You may also want to add more cheese to add flavor and enhance texture.
  7. Once pesto is done, cook your pasta.
  8. While pasta is cooking, begin cooking your shrimp on a medium-low heat.  Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Once shrimp begin to curl up and turn pink, flip over to cook through.  The shrimp should be fully cooked in 3-5 minutes, depending on the size.
  10. Add pasta to a bowl, top with shrimp and pesto.  Enjoy!

Tip: When adding olive oil, always pour very slowly.  It's always possible to add more, but it isn't possible to take it out once you've added too much.  If you added too much oil, I would suggest adding in some more pine nuts and cheese to absorb some of the excess liquid. 

This dish left my mouth watering just by writing about it.  I would love to hear your thoughts about this recipe by sharing them in the "Leave a Comment Section" right under the title at the top.