For a quick and healthy meal, it doesn't get better than shrimp. Not only are fresh shrimp available in many grocery stores, but the wide availability of quality frozen shrimp that have been peeled and deveined now make it possible to have dinner on the table in 15 to 20 minutes. Serve them over pasta, whole grains, or alongside vegetables for a balanced meal. Conveniently, shrimp also pair well with a wide variety of spices, herbs and condiments.
Most of the "fresh" shrimp being sold at the seafood counter has actually already been frozen once. If you want shrimp that is truly fresh, ask your local fishmonger. If you're not planning to cook the shrimp within 24 hours of purchasing, your best bet is to buy it frozen. You can buy it with the shells on, peeled and deveined, and with the tails on or off. Frozen shrimp are also offered in a variety of sizes, so be mindful. Most recipes use to medium (17 to 21 count) shrimp.
While you can certainly create your own spice mix, shrimp pair well with a variety of spice blends. Old Bay Seasoning, Creole Seasoning, and many BBQ spice rubs work perfectly with shrimp. Here's a fantastic sautéed shrimp meal that comes together in minutes:
Sautéed Old Bay Shrimp
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for cooking)
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (plus more for garnish)
- 1 pound medium shrimp
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Place the olive oil and Old Bay in a large, sealable plastic bag. Add the shrimp and toss to coat evenly.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add a thin layer of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan (approximately 1 tablespoon).
- Add the shrimp and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes per side.
- Place the shrimp on serving plates and top with chopped fresh parsley. Sprinkle with additional Old Bay.
Citrus, Herbs and Aromatics
Citrus, fresh herbs, and aromatics such as garlic and onions also pair amazingly well with shrimp, especially when served over pasta. Here are some great options to try mixing and matching:
- Citrus: lemons, limes and oranges
- Herbs: basil, flat-leaf parsley, chives, oregano, thyme, and cilantro
- Aromatics: garlic, onions, shallots
Pesto is a great way to use some of these ingredients, especially during warmer months. It works well on pasta, but it also works in shrimp salads and on shrimp skewers. Pesto can be frozen, which makes it a nice option to keep next to that frozen shrimp for a fast weeknight meal.
Basil Parsley Pesto
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 2 cups flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup good quality parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- Place the basil and parsley in a food processor and pulse several times to chop. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the pine nuts and garlic. Continue pulsing until the ingredients are chopped, then add the parmesan cheese and pulse several more times to combine. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed.
- With the machine running, add the olive oil. If a thinner consistency is desired, more olive oil can be added. Season with salt to taste.