Re-entry is always dangerous. There are bound to be casualties. And so for me, the sacrificial lamb is always the first restaurant we visit after returning from Italy. No matter how good we think it is before leaving for Italy, it will always seem mediocre upon our return. I’ve long since stopped even thinking about going to Italian restaurants, and now try to re-acclimate with sushi or Mexican, or home cooking, of course. It’s really quite simple, American restaurants just cannot compete with the freshness of local Italian ingredients, or with the light, skilled, and thoughtful hands of Italian chefs, who don’t need to add the extra salt and sugar necessary to compensate for the six weeks of shipping and trucking of green tomatoes and frozen fish.
Last week, I had the good fortune to spend a few hours in the kitchen of one of my favorite restaurants in Rome, Primo al Pigneto, where Chef Marco Gallotta taught me how to make four of his favorite pasta dishes. This week, I bring you his first recipe. I doubt you’ll be able to find this morning’s catch at the local market, or actual DOP pistachios from Bronte, Sicily either, so inferior substitutes will have to make do. Luckily, however, grazie a Marco, this week we bring you a little taste from the Eternal City.
p.s. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
Clean the shrimp, removing the shells, heads, and spines. Cut into four pieces. Set aside.
After removing the eyes, boil the heads in a quart of water for 15 minutes.
Blanche the tomatoes, and then peel, remove the seeds and cut into cubes.
Toast the pistachios in the oven at 300 degrees F for 8 minutes.
Place the pistachios and marjoram in a food processor for a thick chop.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, sauté the garlic until golden and then add the diced tomatoes and the shrimp. After a couple of minutes, turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the linguine until al dente, drain, and add to the tomatoes. Stir in some extra virgin olive oil. Add some of the shrimp stock until all is well coated.
Serve immediately with a sprinkle of chopped pistachios and marjoram.