Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mixed Grill

Last night I broke out the aforementioned grill pan and set to work. I cut up a yellow onion, one red bell pepper and one green bell pepper, then sliced a small zucchini. I arranged all of my veggies in prep bowls (from Williams-Sonoma -- love them!), grabbed a lemon and a bunch of cilantro, and my mise en place was ready!

Next, I poured some olive oil into a bowl and seasoned it with kosher salt, black pepper, and Hungarian paprika. I used a pastry brush to coat the vegetables with the seasoned oil, then tossed them on the hot grill pan.


While the veggies cooked I took a pound of peeled raw shrimp and put them in a bowl with a generous glug of olive oil, the juice from half a lemon, and a large handful of chopped cilantro. I seasoned the shrimp with kosher salt, black pepper, and two pinches of cayenne pepper then allowed it to marinate for about 8 minutes. Shrimp and some other types of seafood will begin to slowly change to a pinkish color and firm up when left in an acidic marinade. In particular, lemon juice quickly changes shrimp to a seemingly-cooked state. The shellfish isn't technically cooking, as no heat is used, but citrus fruit is used in a number of types of cooking to firm up shrimp and make it suitable for consumption. Lemon and lime are most often used for this no-cook cooking because they have a higher acid content than other types of citrus. Ceviche is the obvious example and a fabulous way to prepare seafood!


After marinating the shrimp, add it to the vegetables and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning as necessary. Undercooking the shrimp a tiny bit will help it keep a nice texture. Don't worry, after being removed from the grill it will retain some of the heat and continue to cook. Undercooking it slightly just ensures that it doesn't become too rubbery.

As the veggies and shrimp grilled, I boiled a pot of water and cooked a pound of orzo. The DaVinci brand has a nice shape and is made of durham wheat, so I went with that. After the orzo finished cooking I tossed it with extra virgin olive oil and squeezed half of a lemon into it. Chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley was added as well as kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper. I find this combination to be really simple, fresh, and a good accompaniment to grilled veggies and meats.

That's all it took to grill up a tasty springtime dinner. I served it with rosemary bread and a fruity white wine then sat in the sun room and enjoyed. Tonight I'm going to put the leftover orzo, vegetables, and shrimp in a bowl and mix them together to make a chilled pasta salad. I like leftovers but find them more interesting if they're changed up, at least a little. I'll be sure to post a photo or two!

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