Moroccan Shrimp and Red Onion Sauté

Lately, I’ve had trouble finding recipes to get really pumped about. With that being said, I’m the proud owner of a pretty extensive collection of cookbooks (for a 23 year-old at least), with cookbooks ranging from the South Carolina Wildlife Cookbook, which includes great tips and recipes for cooking anything from deer to snapping turtle to beaver, to one on Lebanese classics and comfort food. My favorite cookbooks tend to be Australian; the Aussies have a penchant for great Asian fusion as well as English classics. Despite my plethora of options for finding ideas, I rarely actually use recipes. Instead, I pour through about 5 cookbooks at a time and get ideas for flavor combinations that will work. 

Last night, while trying to decide what to do with the pound of shrimp I had just purchased, I stumbled upon a great recipe in one of my go-to cookbooks. If you do not own The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh, you must find it ASAP. This gem includes 1100 recipes that are quick, easy to follow and cover a spread of ethnic and American flavor palettes. 

The recipe for Moroccan Shrimp and Red Onion Sauté is so vibrant and full of spice – not the hot kind of spice but the delicious, fragrant kind. I served it atop roasted chick peas and brown rice but lentils and greens would be just lovely as well. Whatever you choose to serve with it, be sure it simply seasoned – this dish calls for subtle sides the balance it’s dynamism.

Fast Easy Fresh

Moroccan Shrimp and Red Onion Sauté

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger (I subbed Gourmet Garden ginger in equal quantity and I honestly don’t think it made any difference)
2 teaspoons hot chili sauce (ex. Sriracha)
12 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact
1 red onion, halved, peeled, each half cut into 4 wedges through root end
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (for serving)

Ingredients

Toast coriander seeds, cardamom seeds and cumin in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, shaking skillet, about 1 minute.

Toasting Spices

Coarsely grind spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (or just crush spices with the end of a wooden spoon). Transfer to large bowl; mix in oil, ginger, chili sauce, cinnamon and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp and onion; toss to coat.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until blackened in spots, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.

       Red Onion in PanRaw Shrimp Added to PanAll Cooked in Pan

Add shrimp and marinade; sauté until just cooked through; about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp and onion to plate. Top with cilantro. 

Served

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What’s In My Fridge

Aside from the basic butter, milk, eggs that are given kitchen necessities, there are a few things that I keep in my refrigerator and pantry at all times. If these things aren’t there, I’m like a lost puppy trying to get meals together. No matter what I find myself fixing, these things help me to ensure the plates I serve are full of flavor. They might seem like no brainers but its taken me a few years to really figure out what my refrigerator necessities are – aside from the actual poultry, seafood, meat, grains, fruit and vegetables.

Heavy Cream
Heavy Cream
“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” – Julia Child

While not the healthiest thing in my refrigerator, heavy cream has many uses. A splash of cream will add depth and richness to any dish or sauce. It’s not that you should drench your food in cream but a little goes a long way. You’ll find that I use a splash of cream in many of my recipes. Not enough to take away from healthful qualities of what is being served but just enough to add that extra little bit of something.

Stock 

Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock

Kitchen Basics is my preferred brand. It’s easy to find low-sodium stock but unsalted can be more difficult at times. This one is a keeper.

Whether it be chicken, vegetable, mushroom, beef or seafood stock, stock will give you a flavorful basis for any soup or sauce. It also gives you a flavorful alternative to water for preparing rice, couscous, pasta, etc. The key is to find sodium-free stock so as not to unnecessarily increase your sodium intake. Oh and don’t use bouillon instead. Just don’t.

Lemon Juice
Lemon Juice

Nothing beats freshly squeezed juice but a large bottle of lemon juice can help you out in just about any situation. As with heavy cream, I usually just add a splash to what I’m serving. Typically, I’ll add a little bit of lemon juice to vegetables. I use very little salt in my cooking and the bitterness of lemon juice provides great balance, especially when accompanied with fresh herbs. 

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

My favorites to keep on hand are mint, basil, cilantro, dill, lavender and lemongrass.

An otherwise bland meal is automatically elevated by adding fresh herbs; they add life, flavor and brightness without any unhealthy additives. A dish can be taken from Latin to Italian to Southeast Asian to French to Middle Eastern, all depending on the herbs one uses. If fresh herbs are too difficult to keep up with, I’ve found that Gourmet Garden herb and spice pastes offer a great alternative to 100% fresh herbs and can be a money saver if you find a large quantity of your herbs going to waste. 
Gourmet-Garden-Herb-Blend-Mediterranean-Paste

Chilled Cucumber Soup

I’m a huge fan of just about any cold soup. Vichyssoise speaks to my soul and any sort of gazpacho is a regular summer craving of mine. With an excess of cucumber in my refrigerator, kindly given to me by Caleb’s mother from their garden, I couldn’t think of a better way utilize the cukes than a summer soup. I’ve been eating a variety of cucumber salads since spring and thought I should change it up. There are so many cool cucumber soup recipes floating around and while they’re all similar, they tend to differ slightly when it comes to flavor and quantity used. After reading over twenty recipes I whipped this up. Like most things I come up with, this is easily altered to suit individual taste; simply add, omit, increase or decrease desired herbs and you’ll have a new concoction. My end result is well balanced and somewhat on the Thai side of the flavor spectrum.

Chilled Cucumber Soup
5-6 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2 small banana peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
2 c plain Greek yogurt
1 T lemongrass paste
1 T basil
1 T dill
1 T mint
Ingredients

  • In blender or food processor combine half of cucumbers, half of yogurt and 1 pepper. Pulse on high until well combined.
  • Add in herbs. Combine.
  • Add remaining cucumbers, yogurt and pepper.  Pulse until thoroughly blended.
  • Chill for at least two hours or until cool.
  • I chose to serve with a spoonful of coconut milk and chopped canary melon.Served