Author Notes: This is the best thing I know to do with mint beyond Julep.
I've stolen - uh, adapted - the recipe from Bon Appetit / Epicurious (March 2004) - and will also note that the recipe looks a lot like Zov Karamardian's version from Zov's Bistro in Tustin, CA. The pesto is delicious to stand up on its own, served as a spread or dip with pita chips. I've strayed from both the Epicurious and Bistro recipes - using the pesto as a marinade for the shrimp. The rich coating not only imparts a wonderful flavor to the seafood, it also seals it in the grilling process - with the most succulent results!
Unless you have it growing in summer abundance in your garden, using rosemary sprigs as skewers may be a bit of an extravagance. But served up as appetizers, the dish makes quite a splash. The recipe below includes calamari steak for a more substantial main course. I've altered the ingredients in the pesto- foregoing jalapeño from the Epicurious version, adding an extra measure garlic and lime juice. - Vivian Henoch
Serves 4 (or appetizers for 8)
- 1.5 pounds uncooked shrimp (about 24) peeled and deveined
- 2 calamari steaks (about 3/4 pounds) cut into strips
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1.5 cups fresh mint leaves
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- 24 inch-long woody rosemary springs for skewers (optional)
- For mint pesto: in a processor, combine oil, garlic, cheese, pine nuts and lime juice and pulse (using on/off switch) until the mixture is smooth. Add mint leaves and process until pesto is well blended. (Makes about 3/4 cup)
- In a bowl toss raw shrimp and calamari with about a 1/4 cup of the pesto, until seafood is evenly coated. Refrigerate up to two hours.
- Heat grill pan or prepare outdoor grill for medium high heat. Grill shrimp until they are pink and just opaque in the center - no more than two minutes. Repeat process for calamari strips.
- If desired; toss cooked seafood in additional pesto; skewer shrimp on rosemary sprigs and serve. Or simply mound seafood on a platter and garnish with mint leaves and rosemary