I love the smell of basil particularly in the middle of winter when I am yearning for the bounty of summer. That’s why I always make a huge batch of pesto in the summer to freeze so that I can make this Pasta, Pesto and Shellfish in the dead of winter. Mind you it is delish freshly made in the summer but something about having it in the winter months just brightens my day.
The addition of scallops and shrimp makes this pasta with pesto a bit more festive without much effort. When you make the pest you can double the quantity to freeze it for the winter months. Film the top of the container with olive oil so that the basil doesn’t turn black before storing in the fridge or freezer. When you have the pesto in the freezer this can be an easy weekday meal.
A green salad served after the pasta on the same plate – the way they do in country restaurants in Italy – is a good way to sop up the remaining sauce. A nice piece of gorgonzola cheese would be the perfect end to the meal.
Pasta, Pesto and Shellfish
- 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (about 3 bunches)
- 1 clove garlic (peeled)
- cup pine nuts (pignoli)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (approximately)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit if freezing the pesto)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds shrimp (shelled and deveined)
- 2 pounds scallops (muscle* removed)
- 1 1/2 boxes good- quality linguine (24 ounces total)
- Freshly grated Parmesan
Remove the leaves from the basil branches. If the leaves are very large, remove the thick vein in the center. Wash if necessary and pat dry. Put the basil leaves, garlic clove, pine nuts, ¼ cup of the oil, the Parmesan (if using), and a good pinch of salt in a food processor. Blend, stopping to scrape down the sides, until puréed, 2 to 3 minutes. It should be thick but not a paste. If it is too thick, add a bit more oil. If too thin, add more cheese and basil. Taste and correct seasoning – add more garlic or Parmesan to your taste. Pour into a container and film the top with a bit of olive oil.
In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the shrimp and sauté just until they turn pink. Remove from pan. Add the scallops and cook, turning once, until just browning on the edges and still a bit translucent in the center (they will continue to cook further in the sauce). Remove the scallops and cut in half or quarters if large. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, saving ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Return the linguine to the pot and add the shellfish, 3 to 4 tablespoons pesto, and ¼ cup of the pasta water. Cook over low heat, tossing to combine. Taste for seasoning and add additional tablespoons of pesto until you have the right taste and texture. Add additional pasta water if the mixture becomes too thick. Serve immediately garnished with the grated Parmesan.
* Scallops are often sold with the remnant of the muscle that attaches it to the shell. This rough strip along the side of the scallop about ¾ inch long should be removed with your fingers or a knife.