While listening to my favorite foodie podcast, The Splendid Table, a listener said she had an idea to make a Thai basil pesto and asked if this idea sounded too outside the box for a dish. Before the radio host could even answer, I was mentally taking note. I have been a Thai food addict for a few years now but have not attempted too many of my own dishes at home. After hearing confirmation that this sounded like a fantastic idea, I rushed home, wrote down ingredients ideas so I would not forget, and put the list on my refrigerator.
Nine months later, the tiny list of ingredients was still hanging by a magnet, unused, on my fridge. I hadn’t ever stopped thinking about attempting the dish, however. I actually went as far as planting and growing my own Thai basil this year. And that plant was what I was waiting for to make the meal. I wanted a big enough harvest of basil leaves so that I didn’t have to supplement from a store.
The first time I made the pesto, I instantly knew that I would fall in love with the dish. The sauce came out creamy, spicy, and bright with flavor. I poured the rich pesto over rice noodles, tossed them with some spicy shrimp, and cooled off the dish by topping it with fresh mango and more red bell pepper.
This meal is the Thai food enthusiast’s new best friend. It also takes under 20 minutes to cook. —Behind the Plates
Test Kitchen Notes
Tom Hirschfeld's Thai noodles and shrimp dish (https://food52.com/recipes...) has long been go-to winter comfort food. And now we have this three-season concoction from Behind the Plates. Along with the citrusy Thai basil, the other variations on the Italian pesto are freshly new. I reduced the chili paste by half because it looked too hot for my menfolk. I also reserved some of the pasta cooking water to loosen the pesto sauce. Firm tofu or diced chicken breast would work well, too. Buy a bunch of blue irises and a six-pack of IPA. and make this ASAP -- spring is on the way. —plainhomecook
rice noodle (approximately half of a box of Thai Kitchen brand)
Thai Basil leaves
coconut plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil, divided
chili paste, divided
red bell pepper, diced, for pesto
raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)
garlic cloves (minced)
mango (finely sliced) for topping
red bell pepper (finely sliced) for topping
Bring a large pot of water to boiling point. Remove the pot from heat and place rice noodles in the water. Let them soak for 8 to 10 minutes. Then drain.
Blend Thai basil, 1/4 cup coconut oil, cashews, 1 tablespoon chili paste, and the diced red bell pepper until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a medium frying pan. Add shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chili paste and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until shrimp is pink all the way through.
Add the noodles to the pan with the shrimp. Pour in the pesto and toss to coat.
After plating, top with very finely sliced mango and bell pepper slices.