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Great Explorations!

I don't know about you, but I love exploring new places. New states, new restaurants, new shops, whatever. I believe Heather recently mentioned my wonderment as I walked through Charming Charlie for the first time here. I'm an insatiable explorer at heart. Well, grocery stores and other food places are no exception. I had the opportunity this week to explore three fun new(ish) food sources.

The first was actually at my usual grocery store, Publix. I had actually just nipped into the loo while Mike was picking up Chinese next door. I came out and spotted this...

"Special Request Items"

How had I never seen this before? I've been in there countless times. Well, I glanced over the shelves and saw this...

Aw, snap! Special pasta! If you follow this blog, you know I eat a lot of pasta...a whole lot. And why not? It's cheap, it's delicious, comes in multiple flavors, and I simply don't believe it when people tell me it's bad for me. I just haven't seen the science or the evidence for that. After all, what do Italians primarily eat? That's what I thought. Holla back, Italians! Anyway, I was swift to pick up a couple of boxes of these strange and exciting spinach nests. After all, I have no way of knowing whether or not I'll ever find these again. I didn't know what I'd use them for yet, but I knew I'd figure something out.

I found some other fun unique and unpronounceable pasta at World Market (remember the gift cards Mike got me that I mentioned last week?) the next day and added that to my list of fun finds.

Then I went to the farmer's market. I love the farmer's market! It's usually the highlight of my week when I go. There's always live music at mine (this is Nashville after all) and always really interesting booths. There's the local honey booth that's there every week, from which I got a big jar with the comb in it. There's a "food-scape" booth, which I have yet to explore because I'm afraid my presence will kill the plants, and the guy who sells fresh eggs. I mean laid-that-morning-fresh. Like I said, lots of neat things to see. I was walking around before picking up my meat CSA delivery when I saw some really good looking carrots (to be featured in next week's post). It might have been Bugtussle Farm's booth, but I honestly can't remember. Anyhoo, I walked over and saw some lovely basil as well at a really good price. I pay $3 for a piddly little package of "fresh" basil at the store. $3 at the farmer's market got me this...

Gorgeous, no? A small part of me wanted to just keep it on display. It looks and smells amazing, but fresher is better...

So I bought up the basil, carrots, and a head of garlic and left feeling very excited. I got my CSA delivery and went home with a plan. This was the plan...

Shrimp With Roasted Garlic Pesto Pasta
Compliments of Sunny Anderson

15 garlic cloves, peeled (ab 1 head)
1 cup olive oil, plus extra for tomatoes
1 lb cherry tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 lb linguine
1 1/4 lb lg shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (I didn't add any nuts because Mike has this weird thing about combining nuts with anything else. I believe I've mentioned this funny, little quirk of his)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place garlic cloves in a single layer in a small baking dish. Add 1/2 cup olive oil to cover cloves, cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes, until golden brown and fork-tender. Meanwhile, in another baking dish, toss tomatoes with enough oil to coat. Lightly season with salt and pepper and roast at same temperature until tomatoes blister, about 25 minutes.

Strain garlic cloves and set aside in a small bowl, reserving infused oil separately. In a blender, add the roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, Parmesan, and basil. Pulse until combined. While machine is running, drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil until pesto comes together. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Remove to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and reserve.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the linguine and cook until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and sauté until the shrimp turn pink and is cooked through.

In a large bowl add the linguine and some of the pesto. Toss to coat and top with the shrimp. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve.

Note: There will be leftover pesto. (No, there wasn't.)

These are the only pictures I have of the cooking process. I got a little wrapped up in that. Don't you love the bright colors, though? Don't forget the bright green of the basil too.

Those bright colors actually make me a little sad because they don't last. Take some of your child's paint and mix together green, yellow, and red. Yeah, that same browny-orange color is what the pesto sauce ends up as. I think I'm going to work on a "deconstructed" version of this dish that preserves those great colors. Are there any world flags that are red, yellow, and green? I'd call it [country name] Flag Pasta. Even the green of the spinach nests gets repainted.

Well, looks don't matter when it comes to substance. I recently saw a [fantastic] quote that said: "Beauty without intelligence is just a masterpiece painted onto a napkin." That's how I think of this dish. It's not pretty, but it is delicious. The basil has a really fresh, cool taste that sort of softly bursts in your mouth. Poof! I was especially glad when Mike told me that he liked it so much he wanted it added onto our Family Favorites list--a very exclusive list indeed. Anything that my sweet, picky husband likes so much is sure to be a hit anywhere., so give it a try.

1 comment:

  1. I'm headed to Nashville in a little under two weeks! I can't wait to see the farmers market there. The one in my town is great but I imagine the one there has all sorts of stuff. I can't wait to do other shopping and exploring too! :)