I love cocktail parties… well, maybe not the cocktails so much (I am more of a wine kind of girl) but I LOVE the food! So when I was asked to do a cocktail party for 50 I didn’t hesitate – and no, this post isn’t about catering a cocktail party for 50 so you can keep reading. Now that we’ve dodged that bullet I am sure you are asking “what does cocktail party food have to do with crayons?” Well, to me cocktail party food is like having a brand new box of crayons – you get to play with ALL the colors!! Can’t decide whether you want Italian,Asian or French? No problem – you can have ‘em all!!!! THAT is why I love cocktail parties – you can mix and match to your heart’s content – there really aren’t any rules. Well, maybe one or two. The first rule (aside from looking good and tasting fantastic) is that the food can’t have a lot of last minute prep. The second rule is that it has to taste good whether it is warm or at room temperature. For me, this is what makes cocktail parties doable – whether I am cooking for 8 or 80 people!
These Shrimp with Citrus Pesto are one of my favorite appetizers. Tangy, salty and a little creamy with that unmistakeable hint of mint work perfectly with the shrimp and is a nice change from the standard shrimp and cocktail sauce. If you are lucky enough to have any pesto left over it’s great with grilled fish or tossed with linguine for an easy dinner!
Shrimp with Citrus Pesto (adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 packed cup of fresh basil leaves
1 packed cup of fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss shrimp with 1 tbsp. olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink and are slightly opaque in the center. Cool.
Meanwhile combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Blend until almost smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Season pesto with salt and pepper if needed. Toss 2 tbsp. of the pesto with the shrimp and refrigerate until serving. Place remaining pesto in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate. Both the pesto and the shrimp can be made 1 day before serving. Remove shrimp and pesto from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.