June 28, 2009
Where were you when Michael Jackson died? I was in my kitchen, making pesto. And my delicate on-the-vine-cherry-tomatoes? Why they went sailing through the air and onto the kitchen floor, breaking off that delicate vine one by one, when Leslie Roberts said, “This just in, the King of Pop has died.”
Love him as we may, I think we’ve all heard just about enough of MJ these days, so let’s talk about that pesto shall we? The first time I had this, Curtis Stone made it for me. Uh-huh, that’s right. The Curtis Stone, celebrity chef and certified hunk. He was in Toronto promoting his new line of cookware and his book, Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone and asked me round for dinner. It was a wonderful evening; we laughed, we drank wine, Curtis told stories about what it was like making Take Home Chef.
Okay, so maybe he didn’t personally invite me, and there may or may not have been 20 other bloggers and journalists in the room, but that doesn’t mean my dinner wasn’t any less delicious. We started off with a tuna ceviche (something I’d probably never order in a restaurant) followed by this fresh linguine and shrimp with pesto, a rack of lamb and a blueberry clafoutis to finish. The meal was perfectly paired with Penfold’s wine and lots of great conversation and laughter.
The second time I had this, Jeff and I enjoyed it on our balcony with a cold glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, reminiscing about our favorite Michael Jackson memories.
Linguine with Garlic Shrimp and Fresh Pesto
Adapted from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone
1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Pecorino because that’s what I had on hand)
1/4 cup + 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper
12 cherry tomatoes on the vine
9 ounces fresh linguine
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Parmesan shavings, for garnish
1. Grind the basil, pine nuts and grated cheese with a mortar and pestle or food processor until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil until a smooth sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the fine tomatoes in an oven proof skillet or shallow baking dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until heated through, about 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add linguine and cook for about 2 minutes or until al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
4. While the linguine cooks, heat the remaining olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shrimp and saute for about three minutes or until shrimp are just cooked through. Stir the pesto into the shrimp.
5. Drain the linguine, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss linguine in a large bowl with the shrimp-pesto mixture, adding enough of the reserved water to moisten the sauce to coat pasta evenly.
6. Plate linguine (using a two-pronged carving fork or silicon tongs if you want to give it some hit) and arrange the shrimp and tomatoes around the pasta. Garnish with cheese.