At dinner the other night, I found myself talking about how I came to start developing recipes and writing about food. It seems like so long ago now, but I once was a in-the-thick-of-it news reporter, covering politics and crime. I was on a first name basis with court marshals because I saw them nearly every day, and I had local officials on speed dial. And back then, before I had children, I lived and breathed my work — and none of it phased me.
But then something happened. I became a mom. Suddenly, the subjects that I covered didn’t sit well with me anymore. Though I still loved my work, I couldn’t stomach the stories I worked on — ones where people were facing low-points in their lives. I’d changed, and my career had to change with me, so I didn’t return to the newspaper full time after that.
I don’t know what really led me to food writing, beyond a fleeting interest in it. Honestly, I thought I would leave the newspaper, parent full time and churn out a few novels. But after attending a writing conference, I decided to try food writing via a blog … if only for a little while to develop clips. It’s been nearly five and a half years.
It’s funny how that small change in my mindset led me to where I am now. I’m happy writing about food, happy trying new recipes — even when they don’t work out every time, happy being someone who can type up this blog post on a shrimp and pasta recipe and have someone be reading it moments later. Everything changed, and I am glad for it.
This delicious pasta was a Saturday afternoon creation. We’d shivered our way through a freezing, windy soccer practice and returned home to veg. All thoughts of errand running were discarded in favor of an afternoon movie, and some comfy blankets. So, lunch? It needed to be hot, fast and comforting. This Shrimp, Basil and Tomato Pasta with Manchego Cheese is all that.
I’ve used basil and garlic with shrimp in a pasta before (see: Creamy Gorgonzola and Shrimp Pasta) and tomatoes, basil and shrimp are a natural fit (see: Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta with Romano Roasted Shrimp). But changing up the ingredients just a bit can lead to a whole new shrimp pasta dish. This one is different from all previous dishes thanks to the addition of Manchego cheese, an aged Spanish cheese that is buttery with a mild and pleasant flavor. It’s made from Sheep’s milk.
So, this pasta has a touch of creaminess with the familiar flavors of tomato, basil and garlic. And then there is the shrimp, which soaks up a bit of it all. Delish.
Shrimp, Basil and Tomato Pasta with Manchego Cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 lb pasta of your choice, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and toss. Cook for 1 minute, stirring once.
Add the shrimp and stir well. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until it’s just starting to turn pink. Add the basil and tomatoes and stir well.
Cover the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through and the tomatoes have burst (press down on any stragglers to help them along. Cook for 1 minute, uncovered.
Toss the shrimp mixture with the pasta. Stir in the Manchego cheese a little at a time.
Serve immediately with a good finishing salt like black sea salt or Himalayan pink salt.