Sometimes it's all you can do to find something to put on the dinner table on a busy weeknight. There are only so many nights you can order takeout before the guilt sets in.
Which is why you should probably try the sizzling shrimp with garlic and hot pepper from cookbook legend Paula Wolfert.
The recipe contains only a handful of ingredients, many of which you might have on hand anyway: olive oil, garlic, sweet paprika, hot dried pepper, shrimp and a loaf of crusty bread. Whatever you're missing can be gathered on a quick trip to the market on the way home.
While the recipe calls for a classic Spanish cazuela, you can easily substitute a skillet. Warm the olive oil over gentle heat along with chopped garlic and a touch of hot pepper just until the garlic begins to color and is fragrant. Add the shrimp, stirring until they become plump and opaque — just a few minutes — then season with paprika and a touch of salt. That's it.
You could transfer the shrimp to a nice platter, but why bother? Serve the dinner straight from the pan, with plenty of slices of crusty bread to sop up the flavorful sauce. Add a glass of wine, and you've got a winning meal.
SIZZLING SHRIMP WITH GARLIC AND HOT PEPPER
Total time: 25 minutes | Serves 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking" by Paula Wolfert. She recommends using an 11- or 12-inch Spanish cazuela or straight-sided Flameware skillet. She also recommends using a heat diffuser for slow, steady cooking (especially if using an electric or ceramic stove top). Aleppo pepper can generally be found in Middle Eastern markets and cooking stores, as well as online. Marash pepper can be found at select Middle Eastern markets and online.
1 pound peeled small (about 60) or medium-large deveined (24 to 30) shrimp
1 scant cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon mildly hot dried red pepper such as Aleppo or Marash
2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon sweet pimenton de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
4 to 6 slices chewy country bread
1. Rinse the shrimp and wipe dry with paper towels. Leave them at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes so they are not ice-cold when they hit the pan.
2. Combine the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper in the cazuela. Set it over medium-low heat and warm the pan slowly, gradually raising the heat to medium or medium-high until the oil is hot. Continue to cook until the garlic sizzles and just turns golden, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Immediately add all the shrimp and cook until they are firm and curled, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on their size.
4. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons hot water and pinches of sea salt and pimenton. Serve at once right from the pot with the bread for soaking up the delicious oily sauce.
Each of 6 servings: 415 calories; 15 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 33 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 112 mg. cholesterol; 0 sugar; 470 mg. sodium.
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