Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 9: Shrimp and Penne Pesto

Today was pesto day.  Well, pesto day one, day two is tomorrow but you'll have to wait for that.  For some reason I have been feeling a craving for pesto for a few days, today I decided to rectify it.  The rest of the meal came from the shrimp and spices I already had lying around and were pretty simple, the pesto was the fun part.

The pesto started out life as a huge pile of basil pulled off the supermarket shelf.  Ideally I'd prefer something truly fresh off the plant, but I just don't have a basil monster large enough for me to pull that much off it in one go.  The rest of the pesto is just a lemon, 7-8 cloves of garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and a bunch of olive oil.  The lemon gets zested and juiced with both parts going into the bottom of my mini-chopper (little baby food processor).  After that I threw in the garlic and then shoved as much basil as I possibly could into the processor.  Some olive oil goes in on top and the whole thing gets sent for a spin.  After a bit you'll notice that the volume of the basil has suddenly shrunk.  When I did it the work bowl went from completely full to about 1/4 full.  That shrinkage (stop giggling...) means its time to put some more in.  I repeated this process twice until I had used up all my basil and had between two and three cups of delicious green mush.  To convert the mush into even tastier pesto I added in about 1/8-1/4 cup of pine nuts and a bunch of Parmesan (honestly, I have no idea how much cheese went in, but it was quite a bit of grating to take it off the full block I had).  After running the whole thing through the food processor for a bit more the green mush became delicious pesto.  I found that mine needed a bit more salt and pepper, yours may not but you should give it a taste and if it doesn't seem quite right, probably needs a bit of salt.  (The only exception is when the off taste is "too salty").

I now had about 3 cups (I'm just going to go with this number) of pesto, time to make something to put it on.  For tonight's dinner I went with shrimp and penne.  I still had most of the bad of frozen shrimp from two nights ago and was a bit annoyed with how badly I overcooked them and wanted another go.  Penne always goes wonderfully with pesto and makes a great base for the shrimp.  Finally, I thought I should have something green that wasn't made of olive oil and basil, so I decided to real quick steam some broccoli.

That is roughly what shrimp should look like.  They are actually slightly overdone but a whole lot better than my previous attempt.  My shrimp had a really simple boring rub of Emeril's Essence, a bit of key lime seasoning and some extra cayenne pepper.  They went down into a pan with some olive oil on the bottom for like a minute before being flipped over and left there for about another minute before pulling them out and setting them aside.  I was trying to pull them out just as they changed colours, but I once again missed the mark by just a bit and wound up with slightly overdone shrimp.  I'm getting better, but I was still surprised by just how fast the shrimp cooked.  The pasta (which I cooked before even starting the shrimp) got tossed into the same pan the shrimp cooked in and coated with a generous helping of pesto.  After mixing it all together and ensuring the pasta was heated through I plated up, set the broccoli down next to it and devoured.  Experiment successful and certainly something I'm going to make use of in the coming week.

You'll notice there isn't 3 cups of pesto on that pasta (that's probably too much even for me) which means I still have pesto left over.  Tomorrow's lunch will definitely make use of it, and we'll see how much I have even after that.  And with that, its 2 AM I'm going to finish up the episode of the Day[9] Daily I'm watching and head to bed.

The Recipe:
8 25 count shrimp
3 cups Basil
1/8 cup pine nuts
1 Lemon
8 cloves of garlic
Parmsean cheese
Emeril's essence
Penne Pasta
and as always, salt and pepper

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