This was one of those meals put together after looking at what I had in the kitchen. Last week I happened to have a big bag of frozen skrimp in the freezer and a large container of arugula greens. I knew I wanted to incorporate both items into a pasta dish of some sort because I had a long run the next day. So I looked around on the web and found the idea for arugula pesto here and justlikethat – I knew what I was gonna make! The arugula pesto came out wonderfully – but, I’m here to tell you – al dente pasta is really an overrated bunch of crap.
I started by roasting 3 large cloves of garlic in the oven. While they were roasting, I pulled the old food processor out of the pantry – she’s a heavy old girl, but she does me right every time. Once the garlic was roasted, I added the cloves, along with some walnuts to the processor first. Instead of the usual pine nuts, I used walnuts – cause that’s what I had on hand. I pulsed the walnuts and roasted garlic into a paste and then I added the arugula with some asiago – again, it’s what I had on hand instead of parmesan. As I was combining all that together, I drizzled in the olive oil to soften it up and make it nice and pesto-y. And yes – “pesto-y” is now a word.
Then I started shelling the skrimp. Which, to me, is not a fun job. It doesn’t gross me out or anything, it’s just tedious. You know, it actually takes a LOT to gross me out. But maybe I’ll get into that another day.
Once the skrimps were peeled (which seemed like 900 years later), I set up a breading assembly line. I combined a little flour with salt, pepper, white pepper and garlic powder and made sure the skrimps were mostly dry. I ran them through the flour mixture and sauteed them up in a little olive oil – and they came out beautifully. The breading gave the shrimp a perfect little crispity-crunch, without being so heavy.
While the skrimps were cooking, I was also boiling up the pasta. And here’s where things went south. I’ve cooked pasta plenty of times before – for some reason, on my stove pasta always seems to cook so fast. If the package says 10-12 minutes, it will be done in 7-8 minutes. I’ve overcooked many a box of pasta from relying on the package directions, to the point where it was just nursing home mush. So now I just watch it and check it a lot. I also thought I really wanted to get the pasta ‘al dente’ – you know . . . ‘of the tooth’, where the noodle isn’t so soft and has the slightest little bite to it. Well – I’m here to tell you, that’s overrated. Perhaps it was a bit too al dente and I didn’t let it boil quite long enough? I don’t know, but it just didn’t sit right with me.
Anyway, once I rinsed and drained the under-cooked noodles, I added the arugula pesto mixture and combined – then I served up a portion, topped with the shrimp with some chopped romas – and voila! Dinner was served. It made for a great presentation and had really great flavors. The arugula pesto had a nice peppery bite and coated the pasta well. But I think because I used fettucini, I should have let it boil a little longer – I will not lie, this kind of ruined the dinner for me. I was going back and forth wondering if the pesto was too heavy with oil, or if the crispy shrimp were too heavy – but I think it was the crappy, undercooked pasta.
So – my lesson here is that I will never go for al dente pasta again. I would definitely make the arugula pesto again and the crispy skrimps were delicious. But from now on, I’ll have my pasta soft and mushy, thank you. Just like I’m used to.