Today is the first day of Spring. You would not really know it by the weather we’ve been having in the Northeast. The day before yesterday we got nearly 6 inches of snow, which thankfully melted away yesterday. I think we’re all ready for the change of seasons. Over the weekend I was perusing the latest Food and Wine magazine and came across an interesting shrimp recipe using corn pasta. With shrimp being the Friday Fish Dish ingredient this week I got to thinking with Spring on my mind: what I could do to remind me of warmer days ahead?
Before I get to that, let talk shrimp. In terms of availability they are fairly abundant. They are found on the bottom of the sea floor, rivers and lakes. They play an important role in the sea food chain as well, with larger fish feeding on them. It’s hard to say when shrimp first made an appearance at the table. Archeologically speaking being so small with shells so thin there is very little fossil record. But there is evidence of them painted on clay pots as far back as 600AD. Fast forward to the 1300’s trawling, or fishing for them is noted to have begun.
Shrimp are high in Omega-3’s, calcium and protein. They do however carry a significant amount of cholesterol: 100-200mg per 100g of shrimp. So moderation is the key. (Isn’t that the case with a lot of things?) That said, shrimp can be found is just about every cuisine. They are boiled, grilled, sautéed, minced; found in soups, stews, sandwiches and of course appetizers. It’s a very versatile ingredient.
My favorite way to eat shrimp is Greek-style: simply seasoned with olive oil, dry oregano, salt and pepper and grilled in a flash over high heat; served with a nice garlicky tzaziki sauce. They cook very quickly and the high heat give them a beautiful golden crust. It’s important to not overcook then, otherwise you get a rubbery unappealing result.
I have two ideas for you today. First, before I get to my recipe I want to share something I did for a couple of parties I catered recently. I served them “Buffalo” style, and this could not be easier. Simply season the shrimp with olive oil and a very good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Grill over very high to get a nice crust on both sides. Then toss them in a 1:1 mix of melted unsalted butter and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Serve with your favorite blue cheese dip and celery.
The other idea I have is a dish I created after getting a little inspiration from the Food and Wine recipe. I decided to work some fresh corn into the mix. I know what your thinking: It’s March, corn is not at its peak until late summer. True … but humor me, I’m miserable here with this crazy weather! A wee bit of corn grilled will make me at least feel like there is hope for warmer days, right?
More on shrimp after the jump …
Start with a hot grill pan. Season the corn the same way you do the shrimp: olive oil, salt and pepper. Grilling will give the corn a nice smokiness. At the same time put a pot of water on to boil.
I like using Barilla Plus in some of my pasta dishes. It has a multi-grain content, but not 100%. I’m not a big fan of 100% whole wheat pasta, I think it tastes like cardboard – but that’s just me. The “Plus” version has some whole grain with a delicious taste. My herb mix is a tasty blend from Penzey’s called Sunny Paris. Sunny Paris works perfectly because many of the herbs in the blend lend themselves beautifully to fish: tarragon, dill and chervil. If you are not able to get your hands on this blend, you can probably replicate the flavor by using a little of each of the herbs mixed together.
Butter brings it all together and gives the overall dish a velvety smoothness.
The whole dish came together in just about 30 minutes, which means a perfect weeknight side or entree. I would love to hear about your favorite way to cook shrimp too.
Happy Spring and Buon Appetito!
This a quick week night dish you can serve as a main course or as a side.
- 2 ears of corn, shucked and rinsed
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound small shaped pasta, I used Barilla Plus Elbows
- 1 lb shrimp, deveined and tail removed, U25-30 size
- 2 tablespoons of Penzey's Sunny Paris Blend*
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, garnish
- Put a pot of water on to boil.
- Season your non-stick grill pan with a light coating of oil. Grill the corn until you get a nice char all the way around.
- Remove the corn to cool slightly. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt to the water. (1 teaspoon for every 4 cups) and add the pasta when it is at a lively boil. Cook according to the package instructions.
- Drizzle a little more oil in the pan and add the shrimp. Take care to not crowd them, otherwise they will steam and not grill. You want a nice sear on them too, so keep the heat fairly high. Flip and sear the other side too. About 1 minute on each side. Remove to a bowl.
- When the pasta is done drain and place in a separate bowl. Add the butter and spice blend.
- Go back to the corn and with a sharp knife remove the kernels and add to the shrimp. Toss them together.
- Once the butter and spices are distributed evenly taste the pasta. If desired add a little more salt, pepper and/or seasoning. Then add in the corn and shrimp and toss to combine.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
Sunny Paris is made with a blend of shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf.
If you don't have it on hand try a blend of: 1 teaspoon EACH of dry parsley, tarragon and basil; 1 teaspoon dry chives; 1 teaspoon dry minced onion (not powder); 1/2 teaspoon EACH of salt and pepper.
That combo will get you close to the flavor profile of Sunny Paris
Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She’s an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmers, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Maria lives in Port Chester with her husband Larry and their taste tester Cocoa.