Wednesday, June 1, 2016

No Recipe Cooking- Shrimp Pesto Pasta

Some nights I just need a quick dinner idea. Today was one of those days. Nothing fancy here, I don't even need to worry about a written recipe. This is about as easy to throw together as a grilled cheese sandwich. If you keep a jar of ready made pesto in the cabinet, some shrimp in the freezer and a box of pasta around, you can have a pretty nice dinner for two in no time.

Start with pasta- whatever you have on hand works just as well. I had a big package of spaghetti so spaghetti it is!

Thaw your shrimp, if frozen, and clean them. Make sure you are using nice BIG shrimp instead of the littler salad size shrimp. Be sure to get that nasty vein out of there- you DON'T want to eat that!! Rinse them and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup pesto and 2 cloves garlic. I use a microplane grater to grate the garlic. Season well with salt and pepper. Let marinate for half an hour or so.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta til al dente, then drain (reserve some of the water) and toss with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup pesto. Add a splash of the pasta water of you need. Cover and keep warm.

You want a heavy skillet or a grill pan to cook the shrimp. I used a cast iron skillet and it worked great. Heat the skillet til screeching hot, then add a tablespoon of oil. Add half the shrimp, without crowding, and cook 1-3 minutes per side. The heat of the skillet will sear the shrimp nicely. You want a beautiful golden brown crust, but don't over cook the shrimp. They cook very quickly.

To serve, pile a nice mound of pasta in a shallow bowl, and top with several shrimp. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if you like. Serve with Insanely Easy Breadsticks- use a can of refrigerated breadstick dough, spread with garlic butter with fresh minced parsley stirred in. Twist, place on baking sheet, and bake as directed on package.

This dish would have been even better if I would have had some fresh asparagus or mushrooms to toss in the pasta- use whatever you have on hand to dress it up as much as you like.

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