As you know, I love pesto. It’s so easy and fresh and works with a lot of different foods. I recently heard about the concept of a pesto based on radicchio, the bitter red lettuce related to endive. While I was skeptical, I do like radicchio and have found it to be surprisingly pleasant in the right circumstances, so I decided to try it out with pasta, adding a quickly sautéed shrimp for some added protein.
For whatever reason, the colors in this dish – pink and bright green – just scream spring to me. And after the prolonged winter drizzle we’ve had here in Boston lately, I think any way to bring on the spring is extra welcome. It’s also so easy! Pesto is a great “one ingredient” pasta sauce, and in combination with vegetables – really any of your choosing – makes a great, nutrient packed dish and a great foundation for ADAPTATION. I insist you run to the produce market immediately to give it your own spin!
When I was designing this recipe, I decided to CONFINE myself to a flavor profile that I knew BALANCED well together but that I had limited experience with: Middle Eastern flavors. Although shrimp is not the first meat that comes to mind when thinking of Middle Eastern food (lamb and beef kebabs are more common), fish is consumed, especially in the coastal areas, and is becoming more popular. While I don’t make any claims to the authenticity of this dish, it was really fun to stretch my mind and use flavors that I’m not as familiar with! Don’t be scared off by the long list of instructions; it looks like a lot of work but all the steps are quick and easy.
Let’s face it, I always have a craving for buffalo wings. They’re spicy, they’re fatty, they make my face hurt, they are a huge mess to eat. And they’re so inextricably tied to atmosphere – game day, out with friends and family, having a boisterous fun time. On top of that, I lived the first 10 years of my life in Buffalo, NY, so one might say they’re my native food. The only thing not to like is that they’re so bad for you – fried meat and no vegetables (the celery doesn’t count)! I have a hard time justifying eating them when it’s not a special occasion. To satisfy these competing desires, I developed this pasta recipe to try to get the feel of buffalo wings on a weeknight. Does it look like buffalo wings? Definitely not. Does it taste like buffalo wings? Let’s find out…
Welcome to my first recipe attempt! Through the writing of this blog I hope to learn how to develop my own recipes (and inspire you to try it yourself!) based on my 5 tenets of recipe development.
I decided to start with a simple pasta and tomato sauce for the following reasons:
- I love pasta. A lot. And I make tomato sauce fairly often.
- Pasta is cheap and can be vegetarian or vegan (yay environment!)
- Tomato sauce follows one of my tenets (CONFINE) pretty well – if all you do is pour tomatoes into a pan and add salt, it will probably turn out ok. That’s an excellent foundation for creativity.
- The scariest part of cooking without a recipe is getting to the end and having produced something inedible, or just not great. For that reason, tasting along the way as much as possible will help mitigate some of these risks. Some recipes, such as tomato sauce for pasta, lend themselves to this more than others.