My Special Dish

     Creating a recipe isn’t as easy as one might think it would be.  Often times I am making a recipe that someone else has come up with and thinking: “This is really easy, why didn’t I think of that?”  On the contrary it takes a lot of forethought thinking up a concept and milling it around in your mind for a while. Then there is the work of trying it out and improving on it if the need be.  I realized this recently while trying to come up with a recipe of my own.  It is a creative process much like composing a masterpiece.
     My desire lately has been to create a dish all my own.  Especially was this so after making the preserved lemons.  I wanted to concoct a combination of flavor profiles that would really make this special ingredient pop, while at the same time not letting it over take the dish.  Here is what I came up with the help of my partner in the kitchen, Eric.  He did the grocery shopping this week, and did an excellent job picking out fontina cheese which married so well in this dish.
     There are a few steps required in making this dish but it is well worth the effort.  Gather together a few friends and family members (or in the case of my guys both), a nice bottle of wine to drink while creating, and enjoy the time cooking and chatting about whatever is on your mind.  Eric manned the grill and my younger brother and I made the pasta and pesto.  It was a fun night we all enjoyed immensely.  This dish serves four, but having three diners in our case allowed some fabulous leftovers for my lunch at work the next day. My special dish: Pasta with preserved lemons, shrimp and pesto is creamy, rich, and light all at the same time. Its hints of bright citrus, smokey essence, light garlic notes, and peppery freshness surely pleased all of us.  I hope my readers are too!

Pasta with Preserved Lemons, Shrimp and Pesto print

serves 4

Pasta

  • 1 lb angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 quarters preserved lemons 
  • 4 fresh scallions
  • 8 oz fontina cheese finely shredded
  • 4 oz sharp white cheddar finely shredded

Shrimp

  • 16 large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice from preserved lemons
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (in our house these are married)

Pesto

  • arugula spinach mix
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  1. Boil water for pasta in large pot.
  2. Ready coals for grill. 
  3. While waiting for water to boil, make pesto. Add 3-4 large handfuls of arugula spinach mix and peeled garlic clove to food processor. Pulse while adding olive oil until well blended, removing lid and scraping down sides as needed. Mixture should be smooth, and fully blended together, not too runny, and not too thick either.  It should drizzle easily off a spoon to add as garnish over final pasta dish.
  4. Get shrimp ready for grill.  Peel and devein. (we actually had a little surprise while we did this. If you happen to have any orange looking substance in your shrimp as we did don’t freak. Check out this link) Place shrimp on skewers and baste with a mixture of melted butter and lemon juice. (Grill over charcoal or seasoned wood. This is the part where it becomes necessary to have an extra hand. Don’t put the shrimp out too early or they will be done too soon or worse get overcooked.)
  5. Cook pasta according to package directions. Warm heavy cream and half & half in saucepan while pasta is cooking.
  6. Drain pasta. Place pasta back in large pot and add 4 tbsp of butter over pasta stirring to coat. Pour cream mixture over hot pasta, stirring to coat.
  7. (This is probably when that person can start grilling the shrimp)
  8. Add cheeses, chopped scallions, and diced preserved lemons to pasta, stirring to combine.
  9. Plate pasta. Place 4 grilled shrimp over top and drizzle with arugula spinach pesto. Add additional slices of preserved lemons to garnish.
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