Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pasta with Shrimp and Cilantro-Lime Pesto

I'm on a pasta kick. Good for my tastebuds, bad for my physique. Also, bad for the butcher because I haven't seen a need to eat meat for dinner all week. We're talking about ME here... this must be some kind of record. Anyway, the pasta...

First, I'd like to give myself props for actually using my foodie magazine this month and also for not abandoning it when I realized I had no jalepenos last night. I grabbed the car keys and dashed to Reasors. I felt so freakin cool. And, it was worth it. Having never had any pesto other than basil pesto, I was hesitant but quite relieved to find this meal refreshing and completely repeatable. Plus, it introduced me to COTIJA cheese, a mexican hard cheese that crumbles beautifully much like Feta, though more mild in flavor. I'm already looking for another recipe in which to use it.

Pasta With Shrimp And Clilantro-Lime Pesto
Bon Apetit, July 2010 (Adapted from Tejas Texas Grill and Saloon)

Serves 4

1 1/4 cups (packed) fresh cliantro leaves plus 1/4 chopped
1/4 cup (scant) chopped green onions ---I did the full 1/4 because, why bother?
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp chopped, seeded jalepeno ( do take care to seed it with a utensil, not your finger... especially if you wear contacts.)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb linguine
1 lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Tbsps tequila ( Ole!)
1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese ( or good feta will work fine. Bad feta, will not.)

Blend 1 1/4 cups cilantro and next 4 ingredients in a food processor until a coarse puree forms. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil. Season generously with salt. It will taste too salty but this will be fine as it will flavor the rest of the dish well.

Do ahead- this can be done the day before. Just cover and chill.

Cook linguine in large pot of boiling watter until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat remaining Tbsp of olive oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until almost opaque (about  minutes.) Remove from heat and add tequila. Return to heat and cook an additional 30 sec- 1 minute until liquids are syrupy.

Add pesto, stir to coat and remove from heat. Toss with drained pasta to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste ( I didn't add any seasonings other than the pesto!) Serve sprinkled with crumbled Cotija and chopped cilantro ( if you remembered it.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Swiss Chard Spaghetti with Garlic Chips

We are now officially moved! I'm happy to say the only thing we've yet to unpack are several boxes of books due to a severe lack of bookcase space. I'm thinking it might be time to part with some of my college-era books...seriously doubting I'll be reading Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age again anytime soon. Also, twenty back issues of Everyday with Rachel Ray may need to go. Tough decisions. Either way, who needs reading material when you live in a city with a bounty of fresh entertainment options?

My entertainment has consisted of grocery shopping seven times in past two weeks. SEVEN TIMES. One trip was a trip to an Indian grocer where I procured garlic ginger paste and tamarind concentrate which will hopefully come in handy while recreating Bhavna cooks.

But, the trip that's nearest to my heart at the moment was my visit to the farmers market where I scored some swiss chard. Some people have a strong aversion to swiss chard despite being greens eaters in general. I have no idea if I like greens or not (seeing as this is the only type I've ever had) but it's dang tasty and the fact that it hums a soothing melody of health as it melts in my mouth makes it my current heart of hearts.

I've adapted the following recipe as found on Smitten Kitchen. The difference is that I substitute feta cheese for freshly grated parmesan and I remove the olives....olives me no likey. The resulting version is bold and earthy and it doesn't get ruined by nasty olives. Bleh.

Swiss Chard with Spaghetti and Garlic Chips
Adapted from Gourmet: November 2008 as represented by Smitten Kitchen

Makes 4-6 servings (we halved this)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced (lengthwise or crosswise)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 pounds Swiss chard, stems and center ribs finely chopped and leaves coarsely chopped separately (Green Swiss chard is recommended though I used red and green this time with no problems... plus, it looks pretty.)
1/2 cup water
1 pound thin spaghetti ( plus water for cooking)
6 ounces freshly grated parmesan (1 1/2 cups)

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. (Be really careful not to let it burn. It's a total jerk when it burns. Believe me.)

Cook onion in oil remaining in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir chard stems into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in chard leaves and cook, covered, until stems and leaves are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain spaghetti.

Toss hot spaghetti with chard leaves and 1/2 cup cooking water, adding more cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with garlic chips and more cheese if desired.