About this time every year my garden gets hit by swarms of Japanese beetles. I guess they love it here in the Ozarks as much as we do! They are nasty little creatures that gobble up many of my favorite plants during the middle part of the summer. I refuse to spray harsh chemicals on what will eventually be a part of my body, so every year I lose about 1/3 of my produce to the hungry little buggers. This year I put my foot down and decided to fight back! I searched the web and found my weapon of choice–this organic solution (1 1/2 gal warm water, 3 t garlic powder, 2 t cayenne, 1/4 c veg oil, and a couple of squirts of dish soap) for managing their onslaught. It seems to be working, and so far (knock on wood) my basil has hardly been touched. My 10 sweet basil and 5 thai basil plants are about knee high now and looking good! Hooray!
I love it when my basil plants get this big and I can safely start lopping off large amounts to make pesto–which is what it takes for really good pesto! A couple of days ago, in 105 degree heat mind you, I went out to the garden and got busy chopping. I then spent the afternoon, cool in my kitchen with my food processor, listening to some good funk grass music making bestest pesto.
Naturally I had to create something for dinner thick with this awesome green puree! Again, there was no time (or desire) for a trip to the local grocer, so I used what I had in the pantry (and fridge) and came up with this belly buster of a dish.
A couple of weeks ago, I had my mom pick up a bunch of big jars of sun dried tomatoes at Costco for me (they are good quality and a steal compared to buying them at the grocery store!) so I decided to add a healthy amount to the basil inspired sauce. Their sharp, tangy flavor and meaty texture was such a great way to balance the heavy garlic and creamy richness of the shrimp and sauce. We stuffed ourselves silly with this sinfully delicious dish last night! The cool chardonnay I served with dinner was the perfect accompaniment and put extra big smiles on our faces! What a great evening spent enjoying the fruits (herbs) of my garden labor!
Bestest pesto pasta
4 c Angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
1 c bestest pesto
1-2 T oil from the sun dried tomato jar
1/2 c frozen corn
1 # asparagus, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 c (or more) sun dried tomatoes, diced
1 T garlic, minced
2 T heavy cream
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 t (or more) chipotle pepper flakes
1/4 c dry white wine
1 # shrimp, uncooked, deveined, shell on. I like my shrimp frozen when I put them in the sauce–it renders more shrimpy juice to the sauce!
In a large sauce pan, heat the sun-dried tomato oil over medium. Add the garlic, black pepper, and chipotle pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes–until garlic just starts to brown. Add the sun dried tomatoes, and asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pesto, white wine, salt, and cream. Allow the sauce to cook for 1-2 minutes and then add the corn. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and add the shrimp. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 7-10 minutes (if shrimp is frozen), 4-5 if not frozen. Uncover, stir, well. Serve over angel hair pasta. Garnish is not necessary!