Heavenly Match

This is that magical time of year when shrimp are in season, gardens are at their peak and farmers markets are overflowing with vegetables. It’s a given that you’ll either harvest or buy more produce than you know what to do with.

Someone has suggested that instead of just putting all those vegetables in the refrigerator, we should prep and prepare them, thus ensuring a supply of meals and snacks for days to come. It’s a great idea, but I’m rarely that well organized. I wish I was, because it’s wonderful to open the fridge and have something to eat that only needs to be reheated or, better yet, something that can be eaten cold, such as gazpacho, which can constitute a meal in itself.

The recipes this month feature seasonal vegetables and shrimp, America’s favorite seafood. Shrimp prices vary greatly due to a number of factors — size, heads on or off, peeled or in the shell, fresh or frozen, for example. The largest shrimp bring the highest price, but the big ones aren’t always the best choice. It depends on what you’re going to do with them. If you’re grilling, you want shrimp of a decent size, though not necessarily the largest. Gumbos, étouffées and stews typically call for medium-size shrimp and other dishes, such as salads, often are made with small shrimp.

Those designations — large, medium, small — are very imprecise, and there is a wide range of sizes within those categories. You will sometimes see signs or labels that specify how many shrimp are in a pound (called the count), such as U10 (under 10 shrimp per pound), 26/30 (26-30 shrimp per pound), 41/50, and so on.

The following recipes specify shrimp that fall into the “small” category, though you can certainly use larger sizes if you prefer.

Shrimp Gazpacho

It’s tough to beat a bowl of ice cold gazpacho on a hot day. I think of it as a garden in a bowl. The shrimp add another dimension. A large bowl is surprisingly filling. Keep a container of this in the fridge, and when you don’t feel like cooking you won’t have to.

Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 clove garlic (peeled and crushed) in a skillet until garlic browns. Remove and discard garlic. Add 2 slices country bread about 4×2 inches each and brown on both sides.

Working in batches, add bread, 4 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped), 1 cucumber (peeled and roughly chopped), 1 red bell pepper (seeded and roughly chopped), ¼ red onion (peeled and roughly chopped), 1½ cups tomato juice, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and ½ cup bottled clam juice to a blender and puree. Combine puree with 1 cup cooked small shrimp (peeled) in a storage container and season to taste with coarse salt and hot hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Adjust seasonings. Serve ice cold garnished with 1 tablespoon snipped chives and, if desired, a ribbon of olive oil.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Shrimp And Avocado Salad

A mustard vinaigrette is an exceptionally versatile concoction that can be used to season salads, vegetables, eggs, meat, fish or poultry. Combined with shrimp and avocado, it makes a bracing salad.

  • 1 pound cooked small shrimp, peeled
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and chopped
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • lettuce leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion tops
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley

1. Combine shrimp, avocado and egg in a mixing bowl.

2. In another bowl, whisk oil, vinegar and mustard until emulsified. Pour over shrimp, avocado and egg and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and peppers.

3. Cover plates with lettuce leaves, mound salad on them and garnish with onion tops and parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

Shrimp Tacos

Tacos are best when they’re eaten as soon as they’re made, right there in the kitchen. You can lay out the ingredients and let everyone make their own. Just make sure that the tortillas are hot and the beer cold.

  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 serrano peppers, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 avocados, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 1 pound small shrimp, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun/Creole seasoning
  • corn tortillas
  • lime wedges

1. To make salsa, combine tomato, onion, pepper, avocado and lime juice in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and toss gently to combine.

2. Put shrimp and Cajun/Creole seasoning in a pot, cover with water and place over high heat. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and leave shrimp in water for one minute. Drain, but do not rinse.

3. Heat tortillas. Fill hot tortillas with shrimp and salsa and add a squeeze of lime.

Makes 6 or more servings.

Cold Cucumber, Shrimp & Radish Soup

Puree 2 cups chicken broth and 2 large cucumbers (peeled and chopped) in blender. Add 2 tablespoons plain yogurt and pulse to blend. Transfer to a storage container and season to taste with coarse salt. Add 4 radishes (sliced paper thin) and ¹/³ cup cooked small shrimp (peeled) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve ice cold garnished with fresh dill. Makes 4 servings.


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