Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shrimp, Tomatoes, Pesto, and Fettuccine

This wonderful, unseasonable autumn weather continues and I’m really enjoying it. Somewhat. The temperature and lack of rain has been perfect for outdoor painting (of the house, not on canvas!) and I’ve accomplished more in the past month than I have in the 2 previous fall seasons combined. I’ve given up trying to paint in the spring (too wet, too cool) and in the summer (too hot), so that leaves autumn to be the season in when I attempt to accomplish too much that was delayed for too long.

The days are getting very noticeably shorter and we are now eating dinner in the evening after the sun goes down behind the barn, so no more patio dinners. Even with the torches lit it becomes quite chilly, very quickly. I love dinners on the patio and that makes me sad.

We also are planning to rent the train station which we restored 12 years ago. Jack really hasn’t used it as an office for a few years, and we hate to see such a nice building empty. So we spent yesterday scraping loose paint, repairing split wood, replacing a few rotted pieces, and priming. When we left it looked silly- a cream-and-burgundy building spotted with white paint. We hope to return next week to topcoat.

It was warm outside, and it was late when we finished so I needed a quick dinner. I decided that I wanted some kind of pasta and shrimp. When we arrived home I measured out 12 ounces of frozen shrimp into a large bowl and filled it with cold water. Then by the time I showered and dressed and prepared the tomatoes they were thawed. These were already deveined, so all I had to do was peel them. I didn’t measure because I was in a hurry, but here is the recipe with approximate measurements:

Shrimp with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes over Whole Wheat Fettuccine

(makes 2 nice-sized servings)

6 ounces whole wheat fettuccine

2 medium fresh tomatoes, diced

2 teaspoons olive oil

12 ounces frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto*

2 ounces shredded Parmagiano-Reggiano

Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and add fettuccine. When the pasta is almost done, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook for about 1-1 ½ minutes or until they start to turn pink. Using a spatula, turn the shrimp and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, stir, and cook for another minute.

While the tomatoes are cooking, measure ¼ cup of pasta cooking water into a small bowl and drain the pasta. Add the basil pesto to the water and stir well. Add to the shrimp mixture and stir to coat. Add fettuccine and toss well.

Divide between 2 bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

  • A note for the above recipe, the pesto I make is very thick because I do not add a lot of oil to make it creamy like some of the purchased pesto can be. This is why I add hot pasta water to thin it (thereby also adding a lot less fat and calories). If you have purchased pesto, use your own judgment as to how much water to use.

  • I have purchased pesto before and save a lot of fat and calories by draining it, using a strained lined with a coffee filter, for an hour or so. Just remember, after you spoon it back into the container, to smooth the top and add a thin layer of olive oil to keep the top of the basil mixture from turning brown.

This is very quick and very good. I served with whole wheat Italian bread.

My basil has grown rampantly this summer and is still at it. I have a couple of jars of pesto in the refrigerator and am contemplating making more (thank heaven for Sam’s Club and their big bag o' pine nuts!).

As much as I am enjoying this weather, I need for it to get cooler so I can start making more seasonal recipes! But I can wait for a bit on that. :)