Saturday, May 26

The Cinque Terre, Hiking, Pesto Shrimp and Mixed Greens

Tossed mixed greens in a light but bright lemon vinaigrette topped with savory grilled shrimp makes a terrific simple, light dinner. We LOVE grilled shrimp here at Porter South. It makes for a quick and easy meal on a busy Saturday. For this recipe you can save time by buying peeled and deveined shrimp and prepared pesto. I keep a bag of large shrimp in the freezer at ALL times. If the P's decide they want shrimp for dinner I pull them out of the freezer and set them in cold water. Shrimp thaw quickly this way.                                              
                                       
If you have never tried pesto, you are missing out on a fantastic taste sensation! The Cinque Terre region of Italy is the birthplace of Pesto. Basil grows in abundance there, so much so that it has to be cut back. Basil is to Pesto as Lemon is to Lemonade. If someone has just cut back their basil and kindly unloads their burden on you.....by all means make some Pesto! I'm sure many centuries ago, the Italians had to come up with an ingenious way to use this pesky weed called Basil. Sometimes desperation and a load of Basil is the mother of inventions and before you know it pesto is being served and it's wonderful!
  Here is a tip from me to you: Pesto freezes well. I make mine all at once when the basil is needing to be cut back. Pour your prepared pesto into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, just pop them in an air-tight freezer bag and you have ready made pesto quickly. If you prefer not to make your own pesto you can do the same with store bought. Keeping your shrimp and pesto in the freezer makes for a delicious impromptu meal your family and friends will enjoy. BE PREPARED at all times and entertaining friends or family can be extremely easy and rewarding!
  When I serve this meal I always add pasta on the side. A salad and grilled shrimp will not satisfy the hungry Porter men. I cook a simple pasta, usually Angel Hair, and serve the shrimp on top with this great salad on the side. It's wonderful however you choose to serve this dish and best of all is does not keep me in the kitchen all day. Quick and Easy works for me!!
                                   Pesto Shrimp on Mixed Greens

Pesto Shrimp
Ingredients:
  • Grated zest and juice from 1 large lemon
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt, to taste, plus 1/4 tsp.
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.                              
  • 1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined,
    tails intact
  • 3 Tbs. homemade or purchased pesto
  • 1/2 lb. mixed salad greens                                                                   
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
Directions:
  Make the lemon vinaigrette.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  Grill the shrimp.
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.
In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 Tbs. of the lemon vinaigrette, the 1/4 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper. Skewer your shrimp and grill, turning once, until the shrimp are firm and opaque, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl, add the pesto and stir to coat the shrimp.
  Make the salad.
In a large bowl, combine the salad greens and tomatoes, drizzle with the remaining lemon vinaigrette and toss. Divide the salad among 4 plates, top with the shrimp and serve immediately. Serves 4.
  Optional: Cook Angel Hair pasta, drain and add to the bowl of shrimp, coating the pasta with pesto. I always use an extra 2 tablespoons of pesto when I cook pasta. Plate and serve your salad on the side.


My recipe for Homemade Pesto
Ingredients:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese


Directions:
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
 If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
 If freezing, DO NOT add the cheese. Transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

ENJOY!!!
                   VILLAGE OF MANAROLA                     
CINQUE TERRE
The Cinque Terre, meaning Five Lands, are the five small towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These villages, that seemingly cling to cliffs, are sandwiched in between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains on a small stretch of beautiful Italian coast. They are hard to reach, this fact alone has kept mass tourism out of this small corner of Italy. It does however attract many daily 'hikers'. There is no coast road and the coastal walking path gives you a real feeling of remoteness as you walk in between the villages. Even today, the only way to get from one town to the other is along these ancient footpaths that wind along the cliffs or by train. You are rewarded for your walking/hiking efforts with dramatic vistas of cliffs, sea, sky and picturesque villages. It takes about five hours to walk from the first to the last of the five towns, but what fun is that? If you happen to find yourself in the Cinque Terre take time to walk these paths, village to village. Stop and explore each little village, spend the night along the way and dine on some of the best Italian food in the country. The Cinque Terre should be on every one's list if traveling to Italy. It's NOT to be missed!
The Cinque Terre can be found in the top left hand corner of this map. I wanted you to see how closely it is located to Pisa, Lucca and Florence (Firenze). Ristorante Vulnetia in Vernazza is known
for it's pesto dishes. The Trofie al Pesto is divine. This little gem is tucked away in the back left corner of Piazza Marconi. So worth the wait. Locals line up to eat here. Not only for the Pesto but the anchovies as well. Let me just stop right here and say these are NOT your mother's version of anchovies. Sealed in a tin full of oil!  NO!  These sweet fish are caught on a daily basis and so fresh they are addictive! SO, if you happen to find yourself in the area, stop and enjoy the beauty around you and feast on the local, freshly made pesto, pasta and sardines!  
You'll Be Glad You Did!
The Vernazza Harbor is lovely in the daytime, but isn't this enchanting? Not many tourist left in the city as the sun goes down, you and the locals have the streets to yourself. This is when you fall in love with Italy. Go take a look for yourself, it should be on your 'bucket list'!

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