I love being a member of our local CSA. It provides the freshest local produce, and it forces me to get inventive with the ingredients because, well, there is only so much kale salad a person wants to eat (or at least, that my husband wants to eat). Spinach is an early, recurring item in CSA boxes. And, I think freshly picked spinach just cannot be beat. The hardest part of cooking with it, is washing it. I prefer to destem it, then fill a very large bowl with cold water, and aggressively toss the spinach in it, letting the grit fall away. Just be sure when you remove the spinach that you don’t drag it through the grit lying at the bottom of the bowl. If you don’t intend to use the spinach right away, run it through a salad spinner, wrap it loosely in paper towels and store it in a large Ziploc bag in the fridge.
However, an easy way to get immediate use out of it is to turn it into a pesto. I love pesto: on pasta, on bruschetta, on salmon, in an omelette, tossed with small roasted potatoes. With this recipe, feel free to substitute whatever greens you have on hand: kale, basil, arugula. But, I do think the fresher, the better. And, you can always do a mix of any combination of them. Finally, if you have extra that you don’t intend to use for a while, place it in a small container and cover the surface area with olive oil and freeze.
As for the shrimp, I try to buy wild caught North American shrimp because they’re more likely to be sustainably caught and North American shrimping does not use slave labor to harvest the shrimp. And, try to purchase medium to large shrimp as smaller shrimp can overcook easily on the grill.
Combined, this pesto pasta and grilled shrimp make a healthy, light summertime meal that comes together easily and cooks quickly. Use whatever pasta you prefer. I like this with a brown rice spaghetti, but any pasta would work well.
For The Pesto Pasta:
What You’ll Need:
- 1 1/2 cup of cleaned spinach leaves, stemmed and tightly packed
- 1/2 cup of basil leaves, tightly packed
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- Juice from 1/2 large lemon
- 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts or walnuts
- 1/2 cup of grated cheese, I like to use a combo of Parmigiana and Romano
- 4 large cloves of garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb of pasta of your choice, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water
What To Do:
- Combine the spinach, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, grated cheese, garlic and crushed red pepper in a food processor until they come together, making a thick paste. Gradually pour in the olive oil, until the pesto reaches the desired consistency. If you find it too thick, feel free to add a bit more olive oil.
- Cook pasta according to cooking directions, using the hot pasta water to thin to desired consistency. Serve with added grated cheese and top with grilled shrimp, grilled tomatoes, and a squeeze of grilled lemon (recipe follows).
Grilled Lemon Garlic Shrimp Skewers
What You’ll Need:
- 1 lb. of cleaned, deveined wild shrimp
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- zest of 1 large lemon
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated or pressed
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 2 large lemons, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- about 8 wooden skewers
What To Do:
- Combine 1/3 cup of olive oil, lemon zest, grated garlic, Kosher salt, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Mix well then add the cleaned, deveined shrimp and toss to coat evenly. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
- Arrange marinated shrimp, tomatoes, and lemon slices on skewers. You can do it however you like. I prefer to do the shrimp on one skewer, and the tomatoes and lemon slices on another– you’ll want to coat the tomatoes and lemon slices with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Have the skewer go through the circumference of the lemon slices so that the flesh of the lemon is exposed to the grill.
- Heat up your grill, you want it to be about 400 degrees. Spray it with cooking spray.
- Cook skewers for about 3 minutes per side. You want the shrimp to develop some color, the lemon slices to caramelize a little, and the tomatoes to get soft and sweet.
- Remove from grill, and when cooled enough to handle, remove the shrimp from the skewers and place them on a plate alongside the tomatoes, squeeze the juice from the grilled lemon over them. Serve on top of the pesto pasta.