Friday, February 8, 2013

Farro With Pesto, Shrimp, Asparagus And Peas

Farro With Pesto, Shrimp. Asparagus And Peas

I've been wanting to prepare a pesto dish for quite some time and realized when I was at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday that the time was now.  The inspiration was coming across delicate bunches of baby asparagus with the most slender stalks I have ever seen. I thought these would saute quickly and pair nicely with farro, pesto and some green vegetables. If you don't have access to baby asparagus, you can still make this dish {notes below}.

As for pesto, I enjoy traditional pesto made with basil, cheese and pine nuts, which is a little on the pungent side. But for a change of pace, I make my own version, inspired by Basiltops pesto. It's made with basil and a little bit of walnuts. It's a cleaner, lighter version of pesto that allows the flavor of basil to dominate. To this dish I added peas and scallions to keep the color palette green, plus shrimp for a boost of protein.  

This recipe serves 4 but my husband and I nearly ravaged, I mean finished, it all. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Farro With Pesto, Shrimp. Asparagus And Peas

- for the farro:
1 c farro
1 T olive oil
2 t salt
- for the pesto:
1 c + 1/4 c fresh basil leaves
2 heaping T walnuts
2 t minced garlic, or more to taste
1/4 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
6 T olive oil
juice from 1/2 small-medium lemon
- the rest:
1 c frozen baby peas, cooked
2 t olive oil
1 small bunch of asparagus
3 scallions, sliced
8 oz large raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
freshly grated parmesan cheese
crushed red pepper flakes

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add 1 T of the olive oil. Add the farro and stir to coat. Continue stirring until the farro is lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the water and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the farro is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, drain farro and return it to the pan. Set aside.

While the farro is cooking, prepare the pesto by combining all pesto ingredients in a food processor or mini-prep until smooth. Set aside.

To prepare the rest, snap off tough ends of asparagus and discard. Slice stalks into 1" pieces.  You will need 1 c for this recipe.  If you are not working with baby asparagus, you will have leftovers. Use all of the tips and as much stalks as you need for this recipe and reserve the remaining stalks for another use {they are wonderful blanched and thrown in scrambled eggs or a chopped salad}. Remove the tails from the shrimp and cut each shrimp in half width-wise.

In a 12" non-stick skillet, heat 2 t olive oil over medium heat. Add asparagus and cook until it just starts to turn bright green and becomes the slightest bit tender, stirring frequently. For me that was 2 minutes but you may need another minute or two if you are not using baby asparagus. Add scallions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and cook until they start to turn pink and the centers are just cooked through. Use tongs to turn them over for quick, even cooking. Remove from heat and transfer vegetable/shrimp mixture to the farro. Add peas and pesto and mix until fully incorporated. Divide among 4 plates or bowls. Give each a light dusting of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper on the side.

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Source:  Jill Crusenberry

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