I happened to have a pound of lovely jumbo shrimp and some of my favorite pesto from the local farmers market, so I knew I had found what I was looking for when I came across a recipe for Emeril's Shrimp with Linguine in a Pesto Cream Sauce. I made a few small tweaks, but stayed pretty true to the original recipe. I decided to use a high-fiber penne pasta in place of the linguine, and I used half-and-half in place of heavy cream. The only addition I made was a bit of chopped sun-dried tomato...for a bit of extra color, flavor and texture. This dish was pretty quick to make. While the pasta water boiled, I peeled the shrimp...and I made the sauce while the pasta cooked.
Shrimp Penne in Pesto Cream Sauce
adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Step 1: Bring a pot of salted water to boil. While the water comes to a boil, peel and devein 1 lb. of jumbo shrimp. Place the shrimp in a small bowl, and add 1 tbs. Emeril's Essence. Toss to evenly coat the shrimp with the spices, and set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add 8 ounces of penne and cook until al dente -- 10-12 minutes. While the penne cooks, make the sauce. Add 1 tbs. butter and 1 tbs. olive oil to a non-stick pan over med-high heat. Add the shrimp and sear for 2 minute per side.
Step 2: Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, until they are lightly caramelized. Add 3 grated garlic cloves and cook until fragrant -- about 30 seconds. Add 3/4 cup half-and-half, 1/3 cup of your favorite pesto, an additional tablespoon of Essence, and salt to taste. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Boil until the sauce is reduced and thickened -- about 2 minutes.
Step 3: Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Turn the heat on the sauce to med-low. Add the pasta, 1/2 cup reserved cooking water, 1 tbs. finely chopped parsley, and 1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce. Toss with tongs to thoroughly coat the pasta with the sauce and let cook in the warm pan for 3-5 minutes. Place the penne on a serving platter and arrange the shrimp on top. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan just before serving.
This pasta is fabulous: the sauce is creamy, with a nice spicy kick from the Essence. The pesto provides a nutty-basil background flavor, and the sweet jumbo shrimp cuts through the richness of the sauce. This recipe is simple enough to make on a weeknight, but it's special enough to serve dinner guests. I tossed together a quick salad and heated up some store-bought garlic bread to serve on the side...and dinner was on the table in about 45 minutes.
Make sure to join us tonight at 600 CST for a Twitter chat to discuss our favorite celebrity chefs. In the meantime, make sure to go visit my fellow #SundaySupper food bloggers...you won't believe the wide variety of recipes they're sharing today!