Just down the street from me is a Pescheria (Fish Market)! I have complained so many times about the difficulty of finding fresh fish in Florence, and now, at my doorstep there is fresh fish! There is another market that I am aware of in the center of Florence, and of course, there is San Lorenzo and Sant’ Ambrogio, but those aren’t very convenient to me. There is also a fish market in the Coop, just outside of Florence. This market by far is the most convenient for me!

Twice a week, I stop by to get something. I am mostly unfamiliar with the fishes of the Mediterranean, but there are some familiar faces like calamari, pesce spade (swordfish) cozze (mussels) and gamberi (shrimp). I ask Massimo, the owner for tips on cooking! The cost of fish in Florence is pretty expensive, and that limits my shopping to two times per week!

With the warm weather, my thoughts turn to the wonderful ingredients of Spring, like fresh basil and tomatoes. These are available all year in Italy, and are good quality, but still the spring and summer months bring out the best of these. With those in mind, I made this pasta. It is wonderful any time of the year.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe, thus the exact measures (I don’t do exact measures!) I added red pepper flakes to mine! I also did not cook the shrimp in the beginning; I just added it to the sauce at the end for about 5 minutes. But….I’m no Martha Stewart!

Hope you enjoy this. I find it a real crowd pleaser.

• 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails removed)
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 6 teaspoons olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, in juice
• 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
• 1/2 pound linguine
• 1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, plus extra leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 4 teaspoons oil over high. Add shrimp; cook until opaque throughout, turning occasionally, 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
2. Make sauce: To the same skillet, add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes and their juice, along with 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have softened and are saucy, about 15 minutes. Remove sauce from heat; stir in cherry tomatoes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain; return pasta to pot. Add tomato sauce, shrimp, and basil; season with salt and pepper, and toss. Serve immediately, garnished with basil leaves, if desired.

Spring, oh Spring! What it does to us! Lots of these public displays of affection around this time of year, the beautiful Tuscan blue sky, warm Tuscan sunshine and the romance of the Renaissance. It will do it to you every time!