Early in 2014 Mike and I were in New York for his fellowship interviews. While we were there, Mike’s aunt made us this phenomenal dinner: pasta with shrimp and a jalapeño pesto. She shared the recipe with me (it’s originally from Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant) and it’s been on my list of recipes to make ever since. On Valentine’s Day weekend we decided to finally whip this up. I made a few changes and substitutions here and there (I can’t help myself), but I kept pretty true to the process. The verdict? It’s a really, really simple dish to prepare and the results are pretty outstanding. The meal looks gorgeous and much more labor intensive than it actually is. In other words, this is the recipe to whip out that first time you cook for someone you want to impress. The in-laws, the significant others, the mothers who think you live on Greek yogurt alone…
BLACK LINGUINE WITH SHRIMP AND
A JALAPEÑO PESTO CREAM SAUCE
(adapted from Babbo’s)
What You’ll Need
about 1 lb. of black linguine
1 lb. of medium shrimp
4-6 cloves of garlic
1.5 cups of soppresatta, chopped
Salt & Black Pepper
For the Pesto
7-8 jalapeños, chopped and seeds removed
half of a medium red onion, chopped
about a cup of pine nuts
Only one of these ingredients is a little tough to find, and as you might have already guessed, that’s the squid ink pasta. Lucky for us, here in Miami we can find it at the Coral Gables Farmers’ Market. We bought ours from the sweet people at Pasta Amore, who are based in Palm Beach, at their stand in the Market. I also decided to make this a light cream sauce, because cream sauces make me happy. Last but not least, I used pine nuts because I had them left over from another recipe, but you can use almonds like the original recipe recommends, or even walnuts, if you have them on hand.
Because we were using fresh pasta, we prepped everything first and the last thing to go in was the pasta. Start by removing the heads and seeds from you jalapeños. Please, please, please use gloves while doing this. If you don’t use gloves, keep your hands VERY far from your face and when you’re done, wash them and massage some oil into them to remove all traces of the capsaicin. I speak from experience when I say jalapeño on your face is not pleasant. (Ask me for details on this if you want a funny story.)
Once your peppers are seed free, chop up your onion and put it, the pine nuts, and some olive oil in your food processor and go to town. Follow the steps from the pesto we made here. Put your pesto to the side.
Heat up some olive oil in your skillet and start to crisp up your soppressata. Once it’s crisp, set it aside and cook your shrimp in the same pan. Season it with salt and pepper. Add your soppressata back in and add in your chopped garlic. Remove from the heat.
In another skillet, pour in about 1/4-1/2 cup of heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let it simmer at medium heat until it just starts to thicken. Add in the grated parmesan to your liking and let it simmer a little longer. Add a few of tablespoons of the jalapeño pesto to the cream sauce and stir it in. Let it heat up a little longer and stir in the shrimp and soppressata to coat.
Boil your pasta for a few minutes, drain, and stir it together with the sauce. Serve in a wide bowl with a glass of wine and you’re set!