Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Last-Minute Sort-of Spanish Shrimp

That's quite a name, huh?  I saw it while scrolling my New York Times Cooking app.  I probably would have kept on scrolling because, let's be honest, that name doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the recipe.  But I love Spanish flavors, I had some cherry tomatoes to use up, and nearly anything Mark Bittman does is fantastic.  So I tapped the picture to see more.

There were no tomatoes listed in the ingredients.

I was thoroughly confused.  Just as I was about to chalk it up to an error with the app, thinking surely the wrong picture made it to the recipe posted, I noticed the picture was actually a video.  I clicked on it and, wouldn't you know it, there was Mark Bittman, surrounded by a whole mess of ingredients, talking.

As it turns out, this "recipe" is more of a basic guideline, which is why the tomatoes weren't listed.  If you're not a terribly confident cook or you need a recipe for everything you make, I think you'll get a lot of information from this video about how having basic pantry staples on hand can make easy dinners possible and how certain ingredients work together.  As a more experienced home cook, I really enjoyed hearing his thought process on putting ingredients together to develop flavors.  If you do watch the video and read Bittman's recipe, you'll notice I didn't exactly follow either--I did what he said and used what I had on hand!

No matter your experience level, I can assure you you'll want this dish in your weeknight repertoire.  It truly took 20 minutes, including cleaning the shrimp and chopping the ingredients.  If you prefer to cook your shrimp with the shell on, it'll be even quicker.  Served with a glass of wine (or two) and some toasted bread, such as the fantastic olive bread I get at my grocery store, to sop up the deep red, flavor-packed oil, this is sure to become a new staple.    

In a rush and not sure what to make for dinner?  With just a few pantry staples and about a pound of shrimp, you can make a dinner that home that'll be tastier and quicker than your usual takeout.  

Last-Minute Sort-of Spanish Shrimp
based on a recipe from Mark Bittman, New York Times

1/4 c. olive oil, plus more for drizzling, if desired
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili flakes
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and black pepper, to taste
3/4 c. halved cherry tomatoes
chopped parsley and lemon wedges, if desired

1.  Over low heat, warm the oil in a sauté pan large enough to cook the shrimp in one layer.  Add in garlic and chili flakes and adjust the heat so it barely sizzles.  Cook until garlic becomes fragrant and blonde, but do not let it brown.  Add the paprika and cumin and cook, stirring a couple of times, until ingredients are incorporated and oil is a deep red color, 2-3 minutes.

2.  Salt and pepper the shrimp and tomatoes, then add to the pan in one layer.  Raise the heat to medium-low and cook, turning once, until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the size of the shrimp.

3.  To serve, spoon shrimp into three or four shallow bowls, distributing oil evenly.  If desired, drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.  Serve with lemon wedges and/or toasted bread.

Yield: 3-4 servings