are dusted with cornstarch before a quick spin in a
hot skillet. The crispy crustaceans partner with a
still learning kitchen tips from my 87-year-old mother.
Rather than rely on pricey delivered meal kits, she stocks a
modest supply of essentials suitable for fast weeknight
dinners and impromptu guests. Frozen shrimp, purchased on
sale, is a standard. Same for a few key frozen vegetables,
fast-cooking pasta, canned tomatoes and refrigerated chopped
herbs. The spice drawer contains a modest variety of herbs
and spices; olive oil, onions and garlic are always on hand.
when we did her weekly shopping, I tucked a couple of bags
of frozen raw shrimp into my own cart. When I’m organized,
the shrimp thaw in the fridge while I’m at work.
Otherwise, the sealed bag sits in the sink to thaw while I
prep the rest of the meal.
purchasing shrimp, I prefer to buy them frozen rather than
"thawed for my convenience." That way, I can
handle them properly until they go into the pan. Read signs
and labels, and shop at stores that care about
sustainability of the oceans and preserving fish
populations. If the shrimp is really inexpensive, be wary. I
avoid most imported shrimp — especially if I can’t tell
if it was raised with sustainable methods. Instead, I look
for shrimp farmed in the U.S. and sold at stores that care
about such things, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
thawed, a hot pan and a splash of oil transform large shrimp
into a crispy, spicy treat to eat out of hand or pile on
toasted bread. Or, simmer shelled shrimp in a zesty tomato
sauce, and serve over couscous.
the ingredients for the Moroccan spiced shrimp tomato sauce,
canned tomatoes, bottled roasted peppers, chicken broth, can
be procured in advance. Saffron, while expensive, elevates
the tomato sauce into something truly special, and a little
goes a long way. Use fresh spinach or baby kale when it’s
on hand. Otherwise, frozen cut spinach, thawed and pressed
to extract some of the water, works well here.
to keep a supply of cut and lightly dried herbs, sold in
little plastic pots in the produce aisle, in the fridge.
They taste fresher and brighter than dried herbs.
Alternatively, when the garden is producing herbs, fresh
chives and parsley can be sliced into small pieces and
patted very dry before packing into small containers. They’ll
keep several days in the fridge or weeks in the freezer; use
ingredients to stock for meal-planning ease include frozen
vegetables. But I’m selective. I prefer to purchase frozen
long-cooking or difficult-to-prep varieties, such as winter
squash, pearl onions, and shelled peas and edamame, but not
the quick-cooking, low-prep veggies, such as asparagus or
broccoli florets. Those I always cook from fresh.
be prepared. A motto my mom follows, with many a dinner
guest the lucky recipient.
SHRIMP WITH MINT-CHILE BUTTER
best results, allow frozen shrimp to thaw completely in the
refrigerator and pat them very dry before tossing in the
cornstarch. Serve the shrimp with plenty of bread to soak up
the butter. Or pile them over cooked rice, or pile onto
grilled bread, top with shredded cheese and broil to melt
the cheese a bit for an open-face treat. There will be
leftover butter; spread it on bread, or stir it into mashed
green onions, finely chopped
tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
small clove garlic, finely chopped
medium jalapeno pepper, stemmed, halved lengthwise, seeded,
finely chopped, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons
stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 count per pound), peeled
leaving the last part of tail intact, deveined
tablespoons expeller-pressed canola oil, safflower oil or
slices toasted sourdough or country-style bread
the butter, mix onions, mint, garlic, jalapeno and salt in a
small bowl. Add butter and mix well. Use at room
the shrimp, mix cornstarch, salt, sugar and black pepper in
a large bowl.
shrimp very dry with toweling. Add to cornstarch mixture,
and toss to coat.
Turn on the exhaust fan. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed
skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat until
hot (when a drop of water sizzles on contact). Add half of
the oil and half of the shrimp. Cook, continuously moving
shrimp around in the pan with metal tongs, until they turn
pink, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove to a serving
platter and dot the top with some of the mint-chile butter.
Repeat to cook remaining shrimp. Serve hot, sprinkled with
more green onions. Pass napkins. Serve with toast to mop up
the soft butter. (Refrigerate leftover butter up to a week
or freeze for several weeks.)
information per serving: 388 calories, 15 g fat, 1 g
saturated fat, 459 mg cholesterol, 6 g carbohydrates, 1 g
sugar, 57 g protein, 649 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
SPICED SHRIMP OVER COUSCOUS
tablespoons olive oil
small onion, diced
clove garlic, finely chopped
(14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
roasted red bell pepper (from a jar), rinsed, diced
saffron threads or ground saffron or 1/4 teaspoon ground
teaspoon each: ground cumin, crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper to taste
baby spinach or baby kale or half of an 8-ounce bag frozen
cut organic spinach, thawed, drained, about 1 cup
pound large (31 to 40 count) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined
tablespoon fresh lemon juice
with butternut and chives, recipe follows
cup chopped fresh cilantro
the sauce, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium
heat. Add onion; cook until slightly crisp but still tender,
4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes
with their juice, bell pepper, broth, saffron, cumin and
pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until sauce
is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Season with salt
(about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper. (Sauce can be made to this
point up to several days in advance and refrigerated,
covered. Rewarm before serving.)
the shrimp, reheat sauce over medium-high heat to a simmer.
Stir in spinach and heat through. Then stir in shrimp.
Simmer, stirring often, until shrimp is cooked through, 4 to
5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice.
Spoon shrimp mixture over couscous on a large platter.
Sprinkle with cilantro.
information per serving: 240 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g
saturated fat, 231 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 5 g
sugar, 31 g protein, 918 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
WITH BUTTERNUT AND CHIVES
diced butternut or sweet potato, sold fresh, in the produce
section for speedy weeknight cooking. Alternatively, frozen
diced squash works, too; simply adjust the microwave timing
pouch (12 ounces) diced fresh butternut squash, about 2
chicken or vegetable broth
saffron threads or saffron powder, optional
(10 ounces) plain couscous
tablespoons fruity olive oil
cup thinly sliced fresh chives or green onion tops
butternut squash and 2 tablespoons water into a
microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap vented at one
corner. Microwave on high (100 percent power), stirring once
or twice, for 4 minutes. Let stand. Drain.
Meanwhile, put broth, salt and saffron, if using, in a
medium saucepan. Heat to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, stir
in couscous and cover pan tightly. Remove from heat. Let
stand until tender, about 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a
fork. Stir in olive oil, then fold in the butternut and
chives. Serve hot.
information per serving: 267 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g
saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 42 g carbohydrates, 1 g
sugar, 8 g protein, 441 mg sodium, 4 g fiber