Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fresh Pesto!

In Italy, basil has always been a token of love.

Basil is my favorite fresh herb to have on hand. It grows fast and large, is refreshingly fragrant and can be used in so many dishes. Often I'll hand-pick a few stems, put them in a small pot of water and place it on my nightstand or on the living room table. It is magical walking in to a room to experience the pungent scent of freshly picked basil.

Last weekend while at my parent's home I was wandering through their yard and I noticed that my mother's pot of basil was growing totally wild. I mean, it almost surpassed me in height and I knew that if we didn't take control of the situation then some little creatures would sneak up and enjoy it and we would be left with chewed up basil remnants in an empty pot. That is unacceptable...

So, we agreed to utilize as much as we could of the heaping pot of basil and prepared a Fresh Pesto Farfalle with Sauteed Shrimp. Farfalle, for those of you who don't know, is a bow-tie shaped pasta... absolutely adorable. The name is actually derived from the Italian word farfalla meaning "butterfly." Farfalle is my favorite pasta to eat with pesto. Maybe it's the way the pesto gets stuck in the little crevices, or maybe it's simply that I love bow-ties; regardless, it's always my first choice.

Pesto (the Pescatore way):

4 cups packed fresh basil
4-5 cloves garlic (my mom and I used 6 -- we are nuts)
6 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
S&P (salt & pepper)

In a food processor, add basil and pine nuts. Pulse a few times. Add garlic and Parmesan cheese and pulse two or three more times. Slowly add olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Adding the olive oil like so, allows for a perfectly creamy pesto sauce. Add S&P to taste.

Add pesto to cooked farfalle and coat completely. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Pesto Farfalle (Bow-tie pasta)


The number of shrimp you cook depends on the size of your party. Generally, I like to serve each guest 5 shrimp. Paired with the pasta and a loaf of Italian bread, this is sure to be plenty. Please keep in mind that I have a very large appetite :)

In a medium saute pan, heat about 4 tbsp olive oil and a couple pats of butter until the butter is melted. Add the shrimp so that each shrimp is lying flat in the pan. Cook on each side for 2 minutes. Be careful not to overcook as shrimp get chewy when overcooked. You may have to saute the shrimp in increments depending on the number of shrimp and the size of your saute pan.

Pesto Farfalle with Sauteed Shrimp

Combine pasta and shrimp. Serve with remaining pesto sauce and a loaf of your favorite Italian bread.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Love and bow-ties,


  1. Hi Cara, Loove pesto with pine nuts instead of walnuts! Thanks for a fun cooking blog.

  2. beautiful miss! one day, i will like pesto :)

  3. cara, you inspired me to buy a basil plant last week, more like a bush-this thing is huge, and attempt my own pesto. i cut your recipe in half but wish now that i didn't. amazing, and i toasted my pine nuts for a little more 'umpf.' thanks and keep em coming...

  4. you are such a hidden culinary gem miss cara! :) this looks delicious and worthy of a shot next time I cook for a few guests! Hopefully I can pull it off...good tip on shrimp..I am usually lost at how to keep them soft and succulent but cooked- over what heat would you suggest? medium? thanks lady!

  5. lisa! aw you are adorable! I would get the pan nice and hot over medium - medium high heat then cook them on each side for only a couple minutes. shrimp cook SUPER fast and over-cooked shrimp is like chewing on a tire.... not okay. thanks for the comments! so glad you like them so far! xoxo