Pasta with pesto, shrimp, and garlic

We make this often, and it barely warrants a recipe. It belongs to the ‘dinner in a minute’ ‘good idea’ ‘pantry meals’ category — a family of dishes which is always useful to have and expand upon.

We aim to always have pesto in the fridge. I’ll admit I rarely make my own (except occasionally ramp pesto). So I buy it in large quantities at a good local Italian deli. It keeps very well, always under a thin layer of olive oil, and can also be frozen.

Shrimp is a difficult proposition when one is attached to local and sustainable, and I confess that it is one exception I have been willing to make. So I buy frozen shrimp, where it is easily available to me, from a company that seems to have ethical standards (I hope! — And so it claims).

Pasta and garlic should, of course, always be on hand.

And hunks of Parmigiano, which no self-respecting Italian would ever grate over a bowl of shrimp. But I am blissfully free from cultural tyranny.

Pasta with pesto, shrimp, and garlic
The key to this simple recipe is in the proper order and timing

Quantities for 2 to be adapted accordingly
300g shrimp, frozen or fresh
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsps pesto (also very good with ramp pesto)
200g pasta

Prepare a pot of cold water large enough for the amount of pasta, with a small handful of coarse sea salt. Bring to a boil.

If using frozen shrimp, take them out of the freezer, in a colander, and put them under flowing cold water for half a minute. Place on a plate to de-freeze. If using fresh, just peel the shrimp.

Finely slice the garlic. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan large enough to comfortably hold all the shrimp (crucially, the shrimp mustn’t be crowded or they will stew rather than turn golden and crisp). Fry the garlic until just golden brown (beware, it goes very fast!). Remove immediately and reserve.

Place the pasta into the boiling water and let cook for about 10 to 12 minutes until al dente.

Pour a little more olive oil into the frying pan and fry the shrimp over high heat, turning them over once. They should become deep-hued and golden, but this takes just a few minutes, be careful not to overcook.

Strain the pasta, mix in the pesto, and serve in bowls with the shrimp and garlic, and freshly grated Parmigiano if desired.

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