Shrimp season is in full swing

September 4, 2013 

Shrimp season is in full swing and we are still fortunate to have fresh, sweet Gulf shrimp available and the long Forrest Gump list of ways to prepare them.

Here are three recipes that will be just right for a late-summer meal.

SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE WITH RICE

It may seem a little early in the year for something this hearty, but let's hope the summer heats breaks early and a blissful fall follows.

This is almost a jambalaya, but not quite. You can replace the rice with white beans or black beans, for that matter, if you like.

1 pound large shell-off shrimp

1 pound fresh Italian sausage

1 cup Jasmine rice

1 chopped onion

1 chopped bell pepper (or 1/2 red and 1/2 green pepper)

3-4 cloves chopped garlic

1 pinch red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Add the rice and 2 cups of water to a rice cooker and steam until done. Chop the sausage in bit sizes and sauté with a little oil until well browned. Remove the sausage and drain on paper towels. Remove excess oil and quickly sauté the shrimp, about one minute on a side, remove and drain. Next add the onions and bell pepper to the pan, remembering to season as you go. Sauté for at least 10 minutes, then add the garlic and continuing for 1 minute more. Add the sausage, shrimp and rice, then mix well and cook only long enough to heat thoroughly. Serve in large bowls with a little best quality olive oil for drizzling. If you have not yet tried California Olive Ranch olive oil now would be a good time. It is the only American made olive oil that is available locally and modestly priced and is a great addition to stews and salads.

GRILLED SHRIMP

If you have visited almost any developing country in the world, you certainly saw roadside stands selling a great variety of local favorites and nine times out of 10 most of it is cooked and served on a wooden skewer. It is convenient and cost effective and there is no reason we shouldn't follow suit.

1 pound large shrimp

1 jar salsa verde

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 ripe avocados

1 small bunch cilantro or basil

1 lime

6-8 long wooden skewers

As is always the case, grilling is at its best when the fire is made with a hard wood like hickory, pecan or oak, even a combination of hard woods works well. If you've never grilled over a wood fire you will have to take into account the quickness with which the fire burns. Be vigilant.

The shrimp can be grilled shells-on or off. In a large bowl add the shrimp and salsa verde, mix well to cover completely and marinate for an hour or two, longer if you've got the time. Remove the skin of the avocados, remove the seed and chop the meat into bite sizes. Half the lime and squeeze the juice over the avocado. Chop the cilantro/basil and toss in the lime/avocado mixture, taste and season if need be. A little olive oil could be a good thing, too. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and carefully skewer them, don't worry about any excess salsa, it will only add to the flavor of this dish. Grill over a hot fire, but not for more than a minute or so on a side. The fire has got to be really hot to make this work. In large shallow individual bowls add 3-4 tablespoons of the avocado mixture, top with a skewer of grilled shrimp and serve immediately. A little hot sauce won't hurt a thing.

SHRIMP-STUFFED PASTA SHELLS

12 pasta shells cooked to package directions

1 cup ricotta cheese

12-16 cooked shrimp, shells off

1 whole egg

6-8 basil leaves

1 cup grated Parmigianino Reggiano

(please use the real thing)

1 large can best quality whole tomatoes

Black pepper, red pepper flakes and dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop the shrimp and mix with the ricotta cheese, egg and the basil after it has also been coarsely chopped. Add1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix well. Liberally stuff the shells with the mixture, being careful not to tear them, as they are quite delicate. Add a little olive oil to the bottom of an oven-proof pan, large enough to accommodate the shells, add the whole tomatoes and break up with a fork. Season the tomatoes liberally, taste and re-season as necessary. Nestle the shells down into the tomatoes, cover with the remaining cheese (certainly add more if you like) and bake until bubbly and very hot.

Serve family style if you like or in individual bowls.

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