Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Linguine and Shrimp with Macadamia Nut Pesto

"She tried pesto for the first time.  Imagine that, 92 years old, and she never tried pesto.  It was wonderful.  Just wonderful."  -Lucille Bluth, Arrested Development

I was taking a mental inventory of my refrigerator and pantry the other day, trying to think of what I could make for dinner with things I already had on hand.  I thought of all the basil I had in the fridge, and was trying to think of what I could make with it.  Maybe pesto?

And here's where I made my first confession: I have never eaten pesto before.  This certainly isn't for lack of exposure, as my parents made it all the time when I was in high school.  So why didn't I ever try it?  Well, most pesto recipes involve lots of garlic aaaand...

Confession number two: I hate garlic.  Even when it's crushed into tiny little pieces, even when it's soaking in butter and brushed on toasted bread or balls of dough, even when it's slivered into skinny shards and fried in oil and sauteed with spinach, I will not eat it and you can't make me.

But is garlic even integral to the deliciousness of pesto?  I mean, pesto is made with herbs, nuts, olive oil, and occasionally Parmesan, all things that are very flavorful on their own.  Having persuaded myself that I could make a delicious pesto without any garlic, I decided to give it a try.

I used some macadamia nuts that I had brought back from my visit to Hawaii, and a mixture of basil and arugula.  Since I used pre-cooked frozen shrimp and made the pesto while the pasta was cooking, it only took about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.  The only thing quicker and easier would be to dump a jar of store-bought sauce on the pasta, but really, where's the fun in that?

Linguine and Shrimp with Macadamia Nut Pesto

1/2 pound dried linguine
Handful of frozen baby shrimp, defrosted

2 ounces macadamia nuts
1 cup arugula
1 cup basil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of well-salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to the package's directions.

While the water is heating, make the pesto: Pulse the nuts in the food processor until well-ground.  Add the basil, arugula, and parmesan cheese.  Grind until it forms a paste.  Slowly add the olive oil, and pulse until it reaches your desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the shrimp to the pasta pot in the last 30 seconds, then pour everything into a colander to drain the water.  Transfer the pasta and shrimp back to the pot and toss with the pesto until the pasta and shrimp are completely coated and the pesto is evenly distributed.

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