CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Shrimp Pesto Linguine

One of the great joys of cooking is preparing food with fresh herbs and vegetables straight from the garden. Making pesto is one such experience that I relish. It’s also one that holds great appeal to Kim Holmes.

Kim, longtime owner of Sanders 1907 in downtown Grand Forks who retired in 2017, told me making pesto was one of his favorite pastimes when he ran the popular upscale restaurant. In the summers, he would purchase large quantities of fresh basil from a North Dakota grower over the course of a couple of weeks and would make and freeze enough pesto for the restaurant’s use during the fall and winter months.

For those who don’t know about pesto, it’s a rich sauce made with the basil, garlic, olive oil, roasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. (You can substitute walnuts or just about any other kind of nut.) The delightful summer treat is mostly known for being tossed with pasta in a variety of entrees, but it can also be used in dips, soups, meat sauces, mixed with vegetables and even just spread on a piece of fresh bread.

Kim said in order to keep his restaurant’s pesto fresh-tasting, he would only freeze chopped up basil and garlic combined with olive oil. When thawed, he then would add the pine nuts and Parmesan.

I usually grow a bunch of basil and some garlic in my garden and always have olive oil and Parmesan on hand, so the only ingredient that we need to be purchase to make pesto is the pine nuts.

This past week, I trimmed my basil plants and made fresh pesto twice. I used the some of the first batch just smeared on homemade bread and some in the following shrimp recipe. (The fruits of my second effort went into a soup that contained chicken and orzo, which will be the subject of an upcoming blog.)

Now just bring on the fresh tomatoes for BLTs!

Shrimp Pesto Linguine
8 to 10 ounces linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
10-ounce package frozen peas
1 tablespoon pesto sauce (purchased or homemade)
¼ teaspoon pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 pound shrimp
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Break the linguine in half and cook according to package directions. Reserve cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the peas, pesto sauce, pepper and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add the cup of pasta cooking liquid to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until thoroughly heated. Divide the linguine among 4 bowls or shallow plates. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss gently. Sprinkle with parsley.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: I like to put cooked pasta in a large bowl and pour the sauce over it, toss gently and then serve family style.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 365 calories, 32 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fat, 221 milligrams cholesterol, 473 milligrams sodium.

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