Balsamic Shrimp Skewers

Summertime skewers: Balsamic shrimp

What say’s summertime like food on a stick? Uh, aside from a picnic on the concert lawn listening to the symphony as the sun sets or the smell of charred marshmallows and sand in your toes… not much! So, let’s get this done!

Balsamic Shrimp Skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 pd fresh shrimp, tails and veins removed
  • 1 basket cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped into thick chunks
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped into large chunks (note: don’t get white or red onion. It has to be mild and sweet or the flavor is too overpowering.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Prep

  • Soak the skewers for 30 minutes if using wood. Metal skewers are good to go.
  • In the meantime, prep your marinade by combining the oil, vinegar, and minced garlic in a square casserole dish. It needs to be large enough to accommodate the length of the skewer. With a fork, whisk together briskly.
  • When the skewers sticks are ready, thread your shrimp, tomatoes, onion chunks, and zucchini in a repeating pattern.
  • Place the skewers into the marinade and rotate the skewers a few times to make sure they get fully coated. Cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge to marinate for about 10 minutes. The goal is just to let the shrimp and zucchini absorb a little of the vinegar for more robust flavor.
  • Once they are ready to grill, dust each skewer with salt and pepper on both sides and throw them on the bar-by! You only need to grill each skewer for about 3-4 minutes per side. You want the veggies a little charred and the shrimp to be translucent.

You can serve them on a bed of rice, couscous, or angel hair pasta. I would just caution not to get into a flavor competition. Lightly season your starch with a little butter, salt, and grated parmesan cheese and let the shrimp do the talking.

Note: If you are like me and don’t own an outdoor grill, don’t despair! Summer grilling is not lost to you! I own a flat, cast iron grill and I fricken LOVE it. You can order them from Amazon or Crate and Barrel and you will be pleasantly surprised at the economy of cast iron cookware. Just stay away from that crazy enamel-coated stuff that Le Creuset sells. I am sure it’s delightful and high quality and if you have 300 dollars to spend on ONE pot, that’s your deal. But standard cast iron does the same thing and is equally non-stick if you are cooking with plenty of oil, which treats and seasons the iron while you grill, fry, and sauté. Over time the cast iron builds up this amazing flavor to add to your food. Enamel-coated cast iron cookware will never do that for you.  

~Nom On

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Mango-Habanero Salsa

Ah, the mango-habanero marriage. Bright, fresh heat that bursts through your mouth and nose like the sun warms your skin when you turn your face up to it. Yeah; yeah I am being poetic because what’s happening when you mix orange habenero peppers with ripe mango is f**king amazing. Throw in some pineapple, cilantro, lime juice, and red onion….dear god.

So, how do you get that action? I love a good salsa, so let’s start there.

Mango-Habanero Salsa

Mango-Habanero Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 habanero peppers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small, ripe mango, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped, red onion
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

Prep

  • Set out your blender or food processor and add all of the ingredients to it.
  • Depending on how you like your salsa (chunky or smooth) process it until you are happy with the texture.
  • Transfer to a bowl or tupperware and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Ok, I have salsa, so now what?

Well, my friend, I will list the pairings in order of raddness with this salsa.

  • Shrimp
  • White, mild fish
  • Shredded chicken
  • Shredded pork
  • Diced chicken
  • Diced pork

You can also just scoop it up with chips and make the magic happen that way.

But what would be the ideal recipe for this?

Pineapple and Shrimp Street Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh shrimp – de-shelled and tails removed
  • 1 8oz can diced pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 medium vadalia or other sweet onion, chopped into large chunks
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Extra virgin olive oil or Grapeseed oil
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Salt and pepper

Prep

  • You can either use a standard outdoor grill, an electric grill, or a cast iron stove top grill, depending on what you have available.
  • Brush oil all over your ingredients, except cilantro. Season with a dusting of salt, and then pepper.
  • With a paper towel, rub a little oil on your grill space if you are using an electric or cast iron stove top grill.
  • Once your grill is hot, spread your ingredients, except cilantro, on the grill and cook for approximately 3 minutes per side. The goal is to lightly char the veggies and cook the shrimp until it is translucent.
  • While your fillings are cooking, heat up your tortillas over an open burner on your stove. Store them in a tortilla warmer until you are finished heating them all up.

Pineapple and Shrimp Skewers

  • The prep is almost identical, but for ingredients, buy pineapple rings and chop them in larger chunks, in some cherry tomatoes, and cut the sweet onion into large chunks.
  • Thread on a wood skewer soaked in water or a metal skewer and brush with olive oil. You can sprinkle salt and pepper, too, if you like.
  • Heat on your grill for about 3 minutes per side to char the veggies and get the shrimp translucent.

If you want a really light dish, just serve each person two tacos (or skewers) with the salsa spread over them and sprinkled with cilantro. If you need some starch to keep you full, I recommend a plain rice, like basmati, with a little butter and salt. You have so much flavor, just don’t make a starchy side with loads of spice to compete with your main course.

~Nom On