It's easy to get into a rut when cooking. You find a preparation for a protein that the family likes, and it's natural to return to it again and again.
I'm guilty of that, especially if I'm cooking after working all day. I don't want to think about how to do something new; I want to make something as effortlessly as possible that I can prepare with little thought and the faster the better.
If it's summer and I'm grilling shrimp, the go-to recipe is Spicy Grilled Shrimp, something I've been cooking for more than 20 years since we found the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Andy Gray
A marinade with little fat that permeates the shellfish in 15 minutes makes Garlicky Grilled Shrimp a fast and healthy dinner.
But I did that as a food page back in 2011, and the recipe can be found with a simple search on the Tribune Chronicle's website, so I was looking for something just as quick and just as satisfying to do with shrimp on the grill.
In its daily email, Food & Wine magazine included a recipe for Garlicky Grilled Shrimp, which it also described as "fast and healthy." Garlicky, fast and healthy are three of my favorite things, so the recipe quickly moved to the top of the to-make list.
There is a lot of garlic here - 8 cloves minced for a pound of shrimp - but it mainly flavors the marinade and certainly isn't overpowering, even after brushing the leftover marinade onto the skewers while grilling. Resist the temptation to scale back the garlic.
Garlicky Grilled Shrimp
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 pound extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails left on
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Steamed rice, for serving
Light a grill. In a bowl, mix the 1 tablespoon of oil with the onion, garlic, wine, lime juice and parsley. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the bowl; rub with the marinade and let stand for 15 minutes.
Thread the shrimp onto 4 skewers and rub the butter all over the shrimp. Oil the grate. Grill the shrimp over moderate heat, basting with the marinade and turning, until just cooked through, 7 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.
It earns the healthy moniker because there only is a tablespoon of oil in the marinade, so there's little added fat (at least until the shrimp is brushed with butter). The other liquid in the marinade comes from lime juice, which adds some acidity, and three tablespoons of white wine.
Here's the thing that makes it a little less healthy, though. After cracking open a bottle of white for three meager tablespoons, it would be a shame to let the rest of that wine go to waste. So let's just say that both times we made this dish there were no shrimp - nor any wine - left over.
The recipe also earns the adjective fast because the dish only needs to marinate for 15 minutes before being threaded onto bamboo skewers. Nearly all of the prep can be done in the time it takes for the coals to get ready.
The cooking time is listed as 7 minutes, but I would advise cooks to keep a close eye on the skewers. The size shrimp I used were about 32 per pound, and the shellfish didn't need more than 5 minutes total to go from pink to white.
The recipe calls for serving it with steamed rice but feel free to pair the shrimp with a more exciting side dish. The first time we made it, we paired it with a pasta salad given to us by a friend, and it also works with the Caribbean-Style Black Bean and Rice Salad recipe that ran with the Spicy Grilled Shrimp in 2011.
I'll never retire that Spicy Grilled Shrimp recipe, but this shrimp dish is healthier (less sodium and less fat in the marinade) and just as fast. And it makes for a pleasing dinner on a warm summer evening.