Shrimp with pasta, pesto, tomatoes and fresh basil ~

This summer I noticed I have become a minimalist, really cutting back on cooking and adding the very freshest ingredients whenever I can.

This for two reasons, one, I love our summer's fresh fruits and vegetables and second, it's been really humid lots of nights.  So humid, I don't even want to turn the on the stove.  But cooking pasta only takes ten minutes, so I could justify that amount of time. 

I had just made a big batch of pesto for my freezer, when I thought of Ina Garten's pasta, pesto and pea recipe.  And that gave me the idea of tossing the hot pasta with some pesto.  I went light (2 Tablespoons), but I would suggest more.  Maybe 3 tablespoons.  As you can see my pasta doesn't have much pesto on it.  I used Barilla spaghetti, (one box), but you could use any pasta really.

While I waited for my pasta water to boil, I cored and seeded two roma tomatoes and sprinkled them with a little salt.  I chopped one clove of garlic really finely (because it's raw), almost to a paste.
Although this could certainly be a great vegetarian meal, I had some frozen, pre-cooked extra large shrimp in the freezer.  A quick run under cold water and voila, the shrimp were ready.  In a large bowl, toss the diced tomato, the garlic and the drained shrimp.  Add a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.  Toss and let sit while your pasta is cooking.  Drain the pasta and hold out a cup full of pasta water.  Toss the pasta in the pesto and at this point add some pasta water if you need it,  place pasta on a platter.  Spoon over shrimp and tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with fresh julienned basil and slivers of parmesan cheese.

This dish was easy to make and oh so pretty to look at too.  Nothing wrong with being a minimalist once in awhile, is there?

Delish too ~




Cobb Salad ~

We are hot and humid once again, so I wanted a cold plate for dinner.  Not complaining though as we will be heading into September soon and I know this weather will change very quickly.  I will miss the long days of summer a lot (sigh). See those huge, very ripe tomatoes?  A friend gave some to me along with pickling cukes.  I love this time of year, can't get enough of fresh garden produce!  My farmer's market had fresh sweet corn and red peppers too.   I made a quick potato salad (see previous post), but didn't add my usual mayo/mustard dressing.  Instead I added it to the Cobb salad and used another dressing I have come to love on salads.  It's a cumin lime dressing that is nice and smokey, great for any summer salad you make.  I started making this salad dressing with Roasted Corn and Black Bean salad, but now add it to other things as well.

When I was young, my mother served us a cold plate for our dinner on these hot, dog days of summer.  It always brings a smile to my face whenever I re-make those dinners of sliced, grilled chicken, potato salad and thickly sliced, beefsteak tomatoes. 

Enjoy ~

Cumin Lime Salad Dressing:

1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
5 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of cider vinegar
6 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice

Whisk ingredients well and drizzle over salad of your choice.


Smitten Kitchen's Classic Brownies ~

I am such a huge fan of the Smitten Kitchen's blog and recipes.

These brownies are so yummy, they have now become my go to recipe when I want to make brownies.  So if you are looking to bring a batch of them to bring somewhere or even just making them for your family, try these!  You'll thank me, but really thank Deb.  :)

Classic Brownies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Be sure to test for doneness before removing the brownies from the oven. If underbaked (the toothpick has batter clinging to it) the texture of the brownies will be dense and gummy. If overbaked (the toothpick comes out completely clean), the brownies will be dry and cakey.

1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1-inch pieces
2 1/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1.Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhand pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and, if using extra-wide foil, fold lengthwise to 12-inch width; fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2.If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3.Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.
4.Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.) When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
5.Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve. (Store leftovers in airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days, or, ahem, in the freezer until your resistance gets the better of you.)

Enjoy ~

Simply the Best ~

I can't seem to get that Tina Turner song out of my head over this dish.  Perhaps it's because our local tomatoes are just coming into Season here and this simple dinner was just one of the best things to hit my dinner table in a long time!

So easy to prepare too.  Just take a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes, slice them in half and place them on a platter.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of kosher salt over the cut side.  Let them sit for about 15 minutes.  Then julienne a couple of tablespoons of fresh basil and toss with 2 tablespoons of good olive oil.  Add a couple of grinds of black pepper and toss together.

Boil 8 ounces of good spaghetti (or any kind of pasta you like), and when pasta is done, drain.  Place pasta back in the pan you cooked it in, add tomato mixture and blend together.  Let sit a minute to warm up the tomatoes and basil.  Place on a platter and add good, shredded, parmesan regianno.  A nice crusty bread and voila, dinner is ready.

The tomato flavor is sweet and each little one has a slightly different flavor.  What needs to be said about fresh basil?  It's a perfect match with tomatoes too.  And the sharpness of the parmesan... wow!

Now, how can I package this up and pull it out of my freezer in the middle of January?  I don't think that even Einstein could pull that off here in the frozen tundra of our long January days..........  But, that's a long way off for now.

So enjoy, it's simply the best~


In the soft morning light ~

Early to the farmer's market brought me to these beauties, heirloom cherry tomatoes.  They look especially nice in the early morning light, sitting in my window.  I could sip my coffee all day and just look at this beautiful bounty of summer, because it's so fleeting here in Boston.  But for now, in all of August's warmth, I shall have my fill of fresh tomatoes... And who could ask for much more?

Dinner tonight?  These beauties, fresh basil and pasta.....  and don't forget just a "pinch" of salt too!

Enjoy your Saturday ~