One of the hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet is eating a variety of fish and other seafood. But I often hear people say that they don’t eat enough of it because they don’t know how to prepare it.
Because shrimp is a lean source of protein, it can fit into your weekly seafood rotation. Also, shrimp says special whether you’re throwing a casual dinner party or hosting a sit-down affair.
There are many options for buying shrimp at grocery stores or seafood markets (we won’t get into the farmed vs. wild debate here). Having frozen shrimp on hand means you can whip up an appetizer or dinner in little time. It doesn’t take long to defrost. And you can buy shrimp already deveined and partially peeled.
Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetics educator and health coach for BCBS of Michigan, says the benefits of a Mediterranean diet can help reduce risk of certain diseases.
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“It’s a diet higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats,” Derocha says. “Saturated fats saturate your arteries more, while the others let the blood run through your arteries and veins more efficiently.”
When cooking, Derocha says, try to use olive oil because there is better unsaturated-fat value.
In this recipe, the shrimp is seasoned like a traditional scampi-style dish sans the butter. Instead, the shrimp is brushed with a mix of olive oil, plenty of fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. You can broil the shrimp, pan-saute it, bake it or grill it.
The salad is similar to panzanella, but heavy on the vegetables and herbs and light on the bread. We used half a multigrain baguette, cut it into cubes, tossed with olive oil and toasted. If bread salad is not your thing, serve the shrimp over regular or whole-wheat angel hair pasta.
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Shrimp With Vegetable Bread Salad
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen extra large shrimp
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled, finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons snipped fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
6-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1/2 whole grain baguette
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup halved kalamata olives
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact if desired. Rinse shrimp and pat them dry. Thread three shrimp on each skewer, leaving 1/4-inch between them. Place shrimp skewers on a sided baking sheet or in a pan.
In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and olive oil. Brush all over the shrimp. Let the shrimp sit about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the baguette into 1/2-inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Place in the oven until lightly browned and toasted, about 15 minutes.
Place the cubes in a bowl, add the tomatoes, olives, red onion and parsley. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Toss to coat. Let sit 15 minutes.
Preheat broiler. Broil shrimp about 5 to 8 minutes or until shrimp are opaque, turning once. (Or bake them at 350 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes, until opaque, or grill them over medium heat.)
Serve shrimp on platter with the bread salad on the side.
Yield: 4 servings.