Shrimp pasta suited for summer

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Summer has me in the mood for seafood, since it tends to be lighter than red meats or poultry.

After making pesto last week, I’ve been jumping at any opportunity to use it. When I was looking for ways to use some shrimp I purchased, I came across Robert Irvine’s Fresh Pesto Shrimp Pasta.

I’ve seen Irvine on “Restaurant Impossible.” At first I thought he was pretty callous, but after watching more episodes I’ve realized he really does care about the people he helps. I hadn’t made any of his recipes until I tried this one, and it’s simple, delicious and can be made quickly.

The original recipe called for two pounds of shrimp, but I only had a half pound, so I changed the amount of each of the ingredients. This version makes enough for two servings, which was perfect for me for dinner one night and to have leftovers for lunch the next day. I also substituted white pepper for the black pepper, since black pepper tends to be too harsh for my taste.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1/8 cup dry white wine, plus more if needed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 pound spaghetti, cooked
2 tablespoons pesto
Salt and white pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons thin-sliced tomato skin, julienned

In saute pan over high heat, add the olive oil and allow to come to the verge of smoking. Next, add the shrimp and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook the shrimp until medium doneness, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. After the shrimp are medium, add the onions and allow to cook until translucent, another 2 minutes. Add pesto, stir, and then deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the heavy cream and allow to reduce by half the volume, 2 to 3 minutes. Finally, add the pasta and stir. Finish seasoning with salt, pepper and additional wine if necessary. Allow to warm for 2 minutes, and then portion and serve. Top with the parsley and tomatoes.

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Hummus meatballs

Meatballs

As a single person, it’s easy to fall into the trap of heating up microwavable meals on a regular basis. Lately, I’ve been avoiding that by broadening my cooking repertoire and finding recipes that are simple enough to make when I get home from a day of deadlines. This week, I needed to make something that would work with the pita I made last weekend. I saw a recipe for Hummus Meatballs in Associated Press Food Editor J.M. Hirsch’s “High Flavor, Low Labor” cookbook — which is loaded with great recipes that are easy to make when you don’t have a lot of time — and decided they would fit the bill.

A few years ago, when I first started teaching myself how to cook, I’d buy every ingredient listed in the recipe I wanted to try. That habit left my cabinets littered with partially full jars of curry paste and specialty spices and ingredients for which I otherwise had no use. I’ve since abandoned that tendency and tried to use what’s already in my kitchen.

For this recipe, I didn’t have a red onion, parsley, cilantro or cumin. I used basil-flavored hummus, which I felt incorporated the herb flavor I might otherwise have missed. I only had white pearl onions, so I chopped a handful of those and substituted them for the red onion. As long as you have the hummus, bread and meat, you can substitute whatever you’d like in this recipe.

I cooked the meatballs for 20 minutes and they ended up being tender and slightly charred on the bottom, which actually tasted pretty good. Next time I make these, I’ll likely add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes because I felt the end result was a little bland.

Ingredients
3 slices whole-wheat bread
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup prepared or homemade hummus
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef (ground turkey could be substituted)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray

In a food processor, pulse the bread until it is finely ground. Add the onion and pulse until it is finely chopped and blended with the bread.

Add the parsley, cilantro, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and paprika. Pulse several times, or until thoroughly blended. Add the hummus, egg, salt and pepper, then pulse until blended.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef, then mix well.

Use your hands to form the mixture into balls by the tablespoonful. Arrange them on the prepared baking sheet, Spritz the meatballs with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

Makes about three dozen meatballs.