Friday, 3 October 2008

Shrimp Scampi with Basil and Tomatoes

Is there anything sweeter than Tyler Florence, I mean garden basil? This year I grew Thai, Lemon, Greek, Spicy Bush, Opal and Sweet Basil in pots on the deck. I love being able to go out with the scissors and capture a little bit of sunshine for whatever dish I am making.

Many people have been writing about the last hurrah of summer, I guess this is my last hurrah. It has gone from just-cool in the evenings to chilly-even-in-a-jacket when I walk the dogs at night. The tomato plants are spindly and darkness is creeping over the edges of the day. The tastes of summer are slowly being replaced with the tastes of fall, the slow cooker is out and I may have to seriously consider wearing socks.

Spicy Bush Basil - Picture from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

My basil is still valiantly hanging on, still blissfully unaware of the looming frost that will soon turn it black. For this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, my garden basil gets to shine one last time before the snow flies.

Shrimp Scampi is usually made with parsley but I thought the addition of basil and it's best friend tomatoes would make it a perfect celebration of the end of summer. Spicy globe basil, or bush basil, has cute little leaves that pack great peppery, basil flavour. No need for chiffonading, they are small enough to be used whole in any dish. The dish is garnished with opal basil, a milder large leaf basil in a beautiful deep purple colour that makes it perfect to finish a plate.

Shrimp Scampi with Basil and Tomatoes - adapted from Tyler Florence

1 pound angel hair pasta
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large shallot, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes (I use a lot, but I love hot peppers)
20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled and deveined, tail on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/4 cup bush basil leaves, or regular basil - sliced
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Hawaiian sea salt or other crunchy finishing salt - for garnish
Few sprigs opal basil for garnish

For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the pasta. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the spicy bush basil and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese, Hawaiian sea salt and opal basil.

Weekend Herb Blogging is a celebration of herbs, originated by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week is hosted by Valentina from Trembom - English Version.