Sriracha Shrimp Skewers with Pineapple

Sriracha Shrimp Skewers with Pineapple

Since I’m in “do summer things” mode, I’ve been super excited to experiment with some grilling recipes. Now that we’ve been getting the occasional cool-but-not-too-cold summer evening, I’ve been obsessed with eating outdoors. Dinner straight from the grill is one of those magical things that you can only do when the weather permits, so it’s important to take advantage of those clear, golden evening hours whenever possible.

My favorite grilled foods are shrimp and pineapple, so figuring out what to make was a no-brainer. But I wanted to create a marinade for the shrimp that would knock anyone’s socks off. Recently, I bought a bottle of Sriracha for the first time in about a year. It was one of those things where I ate too much of it, and then couldn’t stand it for a long time. Now that it’s back in my life and I remember how wonderful it is, it only made sense to put it in my marinade. I added it to some pineapple juice, garlic, salt, ginger, and coconut milk. I can’t explain why – please tell me if you know what crazy science is at work here – but coconut milk and pineapple juice make the shrimp take on this tender, buttery texture. I’d never realized that I wanted shrimp to melt in my mouth until I cooked them in this marinade, and now I don’t know how I went without it for this long. Don’t worry if you, like me, abhor the flavor of coconut. I promise – cross my heart, hope to die – that you cannot taste it on the shrimp. Coconut milk doesn’t even smell like coconut.

I let my shrimp marinate for maybe 30 minutes before cooking it, and it picked up amazing flavor. It’s mildly sweet and salty with just a tiny kick from the Sriracha and ginger. The pineapple juice gives it a citrus-y flavor that works beautifully with the ginger, and of course makes it pair perfectly with the grilled pineapple. I like this recipe because it doesn’t take a million years to prepare and you can cook for a lot of people at once since you’re doing it on the grill.  You can make rice and big pitcher of lemonade/sangria to go with dinner while the shrimp is getting all delicious in the marinade, and let the grill heat up while you preparing the skewers.

I discovered throughout the process of testing this recipe is that skewers are a million times easier to cook if you only put one kind of food on them. Trying to cook skewers with shrimp, pineapple, and zucchini chunks – and make sure that everything cooked evenly and properly – was just annoying. Maybe there’s a secret I don’t know about the art of the kebob, but threading meat and produce on separate skewers just makes sense. You don’t have to worry about uncooked shrimp touching pineapple where it won’t get enough heat (my main concern), and you don’t have to cut your pineapple and zucchini to precise shrimp-sized pieces so they’ll cook evenly with the shrimp.

If you don’t like grilling or you don’t like shrimp, don’t worry – You can cook the shrimp on the stove with similar results, or you can use the marinade on chicken. I cooked some chicken in it, and made bowls for dinner a few days ago with rice, Sriracha yogurt, sauteed zucchini, and crushed pita chips, and it was delicious. However you use it, this marinade will make your food taste like summer – especially if you have dinner outside on the patio, with a cold drink and you favorite people. And if you really want to take it over the top, you can always have Balsamic Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert. Just a suggestion.




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Sriracha Shrimp Marinade

Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Shrimp Skewers

  • 1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 Tbsps sriracha
  • 2 Tbsps coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Pineapple and Zucchini Skewers

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups pineapple chunks - about 1/2 a fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. Note: Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before use.

    Combine all marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl. Place shrimp in the marinade and stir until all of it it well coated. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 

    2. Slice pineapple and zucchini into bite-sized chunks. Season the zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers, leaving a little space between each piece. 

    3. Pre-heat the grill. Thread shrimp onto skewers, keep separate from those with the pineapple and zucchini.

    4. Cook skewers over medium-high heat on grill until shrimp curl and turn pink/lose transparency. Pineapple and zucchini should cook until tender - about 4-6 minutes on direct heat, and then move to a section of the grill with indirect heat to continue getting soft. Sprinkle the cooked shrimp with dried parsley, if you're feeling fancy. 

 

 


Jambalaya Zoodles

Jambalaya Zoodles

I mentioned in my last post that one of my prime reasons for learning to cook was to be able to make vegetables taste wonderful. This recipe is the epitome of delicious vegetables, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a take on about a million versions of jambalaya, turned into an unbelievably flavorful plate of meat and vegetables. Healthy eating should never boil down to boring, flavorless dishes.

If you’re unfamiliar with cooking dishes like jambalaya, then this is a good place to start. There’s a lot of prep work involved, but no tricky techniques, and the actual cooking is quick and easy.

My Jambalaya Zoodles start as all good Cajun and Cajun-inspired cooking does: with the holy trinity: onion, bell peppers, and celery, along with some diced tomatoes and garlic. The vegetables are coated in a blend of spices and sauteed in butter. They’re taken off the heat while shrimp and andouille sausage are cooked with more seasoning. After that, everything is combined in the pan with chicken stock, and reduced until the meat and vegetables have soaked up all the flavor. The zucchini is added last, cooked in with everything else until barely tender, and then it’s time to serve!

The zucchini is a fabulous base for this combination of meat and sauce. I find that zoodle recipes are often either underwhelming in texture, or drenched in a cream sauce that leaves them feeling heavy in your stomach. These Jambalaya Zoodles have loads of interesting textures going on, between the crunch of the zucchini, the soft peppers and onions, and the hearty shrimp and sausage. This dish is a little spicy, but not so hot that you can’t truly appreciate the flavor. You can always reduce or increase the cayenne and pepper to adjust to your liking – just remember that a little cayenne goes a very long way. I’ve learned this the hard way!

If shrimp and andouille sausage aren’t your thing, you can use chicken instead and still end up with an amazing dinner. Beef or pork would probably be delicious as well, although I haven’t tried them in this recipe. It would be a wonderful meatless dish as well, perhaps with pasta mixed in with the zoodles, or mushrooms in place of the meat.

Since this isn’t a recipe for a true jambalaya, there’s no need to worry that what you end up with isn’t technically right. This recipe doesn’t pretend to be Cajun jambalaya like you’ll find in New Orleans. This is a take on the deep, spicy flavors of jambalaya, with a healthy twist. Once you taste this dish, you’ll never want to flavor anything else differently. And you’ll probably spend a few hours casually planning a dream trip to New Orleans to try some truly authentic jambalaya. In my head, I’m headed to Louisiana tomorrow. In real life, I’m making this for dinner tonight to dull the pain of an existence that doesn’t support snap-decision excursions to interesting places.

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Jambalaya Zoodles

Servings 3 people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1 lb andouille sausage (about 5 links)
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 medium zucchinis - about 9 cups of zoodles when spiralized

Instructions

  1. Note: This recipe requires a fairly sizeable skillet - I used a 12 inch skillet.  A wok would also do a great job.

    Step 1: Stir together cayenne, pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, oregano, thyme, and basil. Spiralize three zucchinis. Roughly chop the spirals so you don't end up with very long zoodles.

    Step 2: Thinly slice peppers, onion, and celery. Mince garlic. Add peppers, onion, celery, garlic, tomatoes, and butter to a large skillet. Stir in half the blend of seasonings. Cook on high heat until vegetables are soft and starting to brown. 

    Step 3: Prick sausages all over with a fork and place in another skillet over medium heat. Pour in just enough water to come about a quarter of the way up the sides of the sausages. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until any remaining water in the skillet has evaporated and sausages are golden brown. Remove sausages from heat, cut into pieces, and set aside. 

    Step 4: When vegetables have started to brown, remove from skillet and set aside. Do not clean the skillet.  Add the shrimp to the same skillet and sprinkle the remaining spice blend over top. Cook shrimp on high heat just until they turn uniformly pink. 

    Step 5: Reduce heat to medium, and return sausage and cooked vegetables to the skillet with the shrimp. Pour about a cup of chicken stock into the skillet, and let cook, stirring occasionally. 

    Step 6: Stir together corn starch and wine. When chicken stock has reduced by half, pour corn starch and wine mixture into the skillet and stir. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken. 

    Step 7: Pour remaining chicken stock into the skillet, let cook for three more minutes. Add zucchini to the skillet and cook just until it becomes tender. Remove from heat and serve!