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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Almond-Crusted Chicken

I have been feeling dreadfully uninspired in the kitchen lately which is probably due to weekend trips that have kept me from my Saturday morning trips to the market. But I am happy to say that after getting some amazing news which is sure to impact the rest of my life, I have perked right back up and am glad to say I’m out of the culinary doldrums.

My most reoccurring food challenge is to give Caleb food that feels hefty enough to satisfy the appetite of man who works fourteen hour days in the hot, humid Charleston sun while also satisfying my desire for food that doesn’t sit like a rock in my stomach and clog both our arteries. I’ve begun making one true ‘man-food meal’ a week – heavy, meat and potatoes stuff. The rest of the week, I focus on what I always do – well-rounded, healthy meals.

This almond-crusted chicken works wonders in my house because it gives Caleb the feel of fried chicken while eliminating the actual fried element. He loves for me to use the leftovers in his sandwich for lunch the next day. Imagine almond-crusted chicken on toasted focaccia bread with a slice of provolone and sundried tomato pesto. I’m salivating already.

Almond-Crusted Chicken

6 chicken cutlets
2/3 cup crushed roasted almonds
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 egg, beaten
salt to taste, if desired
olive oil

  • Using cutlets cuts out the meat pounding process here. If you’ve had a frustrating day, just use boneless skinless chicken breasts and pound away until breasts are about 1/4″ thick.
  • Set oven to broil.
  • Combine flour and crushed almonds in a shallow dish. Add a dash of salt if you wish. (Feel free to use almond flour or rice flour here. Either would a lovely substitute.)Ground Almonds

Dip chicken in egg and transfer to dish with flour and almond. Even and thoroughly coat.

Place chicken on greased baking baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil.
Pre-Oven

Cook under broiler for 4-6 minutes on each side, until golden and juices run clear.
Fresh Out The Oven

I served with one of my favorite veggie sides – spinach aglio e olio (aka spinach with garlic and olive oil, add a splash of lemon juice and white wine). I have to confess that I used a cheat in this meal – French brie ravioli that I did not make. I pick up my pasta from the farmers market and freeze any excess. Rio Bertolini’s makes wonderful fresh pastas, ranging from squid ink spaghettini and saffron papardelle to the most amazing raviolis you can imagine. The brie ravioli is no exception and I served it simply with a quick creamy basil sauce.

  • Plated

Flatbread and Muhammara

My most recent food obsession is muhammara. I was first introduced to it a couple weeks ago while at lunch after church. In the words of my pastor, “This is what they serve in heaven.” This stuff is outstanding. It’s kind of like hummus but it’s not. It originated in Syria and is popular in Lebanon, Turkey and the surrounding areas. The key ingredients are roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses. You may also see it referred to as pomegranate hummus or pomegranate muhammara.

Muhammara

 

I regret to say that I have not been attempted to make this myself, preferring for the time being, to buy it by the pound from the Middle Eastern restaurant/deli near my church. What makes this so wonderful is it’s subtle sweetness and mellow character. With the large quantity I’ve been purchasing, I’ve quickly run out of pita and while this is great with fresh vegetables, it’s best with a simple flatbread. So while I cannot provide you with a self-tested muhammara recipe (although there are many out there), I will give you a quick, healthy flatbread recipe that could be used for a number of dishes whether you’re preparing a Greek, Middle Eastern or Indian meal, enjoy snacking on flatbread or use it to sop up soup or sauce.

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Easy Whole Wheat Flatbread

1 1/2 c unbleached whole wheat flour (I prefer King Arthur here)
1 t baking powder
1 t sea salt
1 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt (I prefer Fage)
olive oil

  • In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  • Stir in yogurt with spoon until well combined. Using hands, form into a near-ball shape.
  • Lightly knead dough on floured surface for about one minute. Then divide into six balls. Let sit for about ten minutes.
  • Flatten and create rounds about the size of a small pita.
  • Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Cook rounds one by one, for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until browned and slightly puffed.
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My iPhone takes is old and takes crappy pictures. But you get the idea.

 This one puffed up nicely so it’s too bad I left it on the heat too long. It’s okay, my grandma would just tell me it’s high brown.

 

 

Sriracha White Wine Sauce

Like most people cooking on a budget, I often turn to pasta to create a filling meal which can quickly become repetitive. While I prefer to use a carb curfew (refraining from carbs after 6:00 PM), this doesn’t work well when it comes to satisfying a hungry Mr. Wonderful. With that said, I’m continually making new sauces to liven things up. After deciding I needed to use up some shrimp, I whipped up this sauce and served with linguine and wilted spinach on the side. I also chose to poach the shrimp in the sauce. The mint and sriracha make for a bright sauce that is full of flavor yet light enough for our hot and humid Lowcountry evenings. And who doesn’t love sriracha?
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1 c  dry white wine (Francis Coppola Sauvignon Blanc is my preference)
Splash lemon juice
½ c reserved pasta water
Splash cream
1 T sriracha
¼ c finely chopped fresh mint

  1. In a large pan, bring wine to a low boil for about 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in a splash of lemon juice simmer for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add ½ c of pasta water.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and add a splash of cream (do not use milk instead – it will not be the same), gently whisk.
  5. Add sriracha and stir until even distributed.
  6. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in mint. Serve.

*Pasta water is great for stretching sauces and doesn’t create a watered-down consistency due to the starch from the pasta. Right before you drain pasta, use a measuring cup to scoop out 1 cup of the water. If your sauce seems too thick, just add pasta water until you reach the desired consistency. It’s also great to keep in the refrigerator for when you have leftovers that need reheating.

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