Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tortellini with Shrimp, Pesto, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I have to admit, Sandra Lee kind of cracks me up. I know there's a lot of foodies out there - both famous and not so much (including some good friends of mine :) )  - that love to diss her, since often what she's doing is basically throwing together packaged stuff and calling it cooking. And those "tablescape" things kill me - I mean, I like to show off my food too, but there's so much crap on the table that none of the damn food would fit  !! On the other hand...she's always having so much fun. And you just know she mixes up a killer cocktail (all of her shows seem to include them) . I bet her parties actually kind of rock - and she'd definitely be the friend to go to when, say, you just got dumped by your boyfriend and you need a night of those self-indulgent foods that you know you love (we ALL have them), washed down with prodigious amounts of booze.

On the other hand...there actually are a lot of really excellent meals you can make that start with some already prepared items. It's a great way to get started when you're pressed for time, of course, but also if you're just starting to get into cooking, or if your skills are not quite where you'd like them to be yet and you want to make a dinner that's kind of impressive. This dish is exactly that - quick and easy (if you use prepared pesto and cooked shrimp), yet elegant and really, REALLY good. And when you're ready to take it to the next level, it's very easy to make your own pesto (recipe below, or use your favorite) and/or to simply saute raw shrimp in a little olive oil, salt and pepper until done. Just don't tell anyone if you use the prepared stuff...or a little voice in your kitchen might say "wow, Mom...that's kind of like the stuff that Semi-Homemade lady makes". Thanks, Alex :)

We first ate this dish many, many years ago at a place called Stromboli's, which is no longer there (actually, it was replaced by our favorite Italian restaurant, Fiorella's.). The components are so easy that we instantly came home and recreated it....and that first summer we had it, we were absolutely obsessed - I think we had it at least once a week. The dish works equally well as a hot pasta dish or a cold pasta salad, so there was plenty of opportunity...and as I recall someone was supplying us with plenty of fresh basil, so we were constantly making pesto and making this dish. I don't think I could even look at pesto for a few years afterwards, but man oh man, it was nice while it lasted.

I have made this many times since - both with prepared pesto and homemade - and while the homemade is better, making it with prepared pesto will still give you excellent results. Just use the best quality stuff you can find, and I promise you will love it !!

Tortellini with Shrimp, Pesto, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Serves 4 (really it does - very, very filling !)

20 oz package of fresh tri-color tortellini  (or 2 9 oz bags,  frozen )
1 lb cooked shrimp, tails removed
8.5 oz jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (chopped or whole, your preference), drained, oil reserved.
1 1/4 cup pesto (11 oz container of Buitoni works perfectly)

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and mix with other ingredients, drizzling in as much of the sun-dried tomato oil as you need or like.

Basic Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 - 4 cloves garlic (to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

In food processor, pulse basil, nuts and garlic until chopped. With processor running, drizzle in olive oil. Add cheese and process briefly to combine. Add salt and pepper if needed.

1 comment:

  1. What's wrong with this dish? Absolutely NOTHING! Yummmm! xox love you