Grilled Shrimp Cocktail with Two Green Sauces

DSC03189

With the typical hot September weather in San Diego (it’s when we get our summer), I broke out the grill so I could avoid heating up the house. I  made these grilled shrimp once before in a grill pan, but they’re even better on a real grill! What makes these so great is how simple and fresh they are — and light, which is ideal for when it’s hot out. You can serve them hot, cold or room temp, and with a wide variety of dips, from the green ones here to cocktail sauce to a vinaigrette. They’ll be a hit, so make a lot.

The green dips here are really fresh and interesting. The Tunisian pesto uses almonds instead of your traditional pine nuts, and parsley and cilantro instead of basil. The chutney has a Mediterranean influence, with kick from a jalapeño, plus ginger, yogurt, mint and cilantro — it’s spicy and herby and delish.

DSC03193

TW’s Tips

  • The dip recipes make a lot — freeze the pesto and serve with salmon or chicken another time.
  • The dips also involve a fair amount of food processor work — make them ahead to save on the headache.
  • Make sure you skewer the shrimp well so they don’t become grill martyrs.
  • I prefer larger shrimp versus medium.
  • Serve with a green salad or as an appetizer.

DSC03191

Grilled Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium shrimp with tails, peeled and deveined
  • Oil or melted butter for grilling
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lime

Directions

Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high. Toss shrimp with just enough oil or butter to coat lightly, then season with salt and pepper to taste. If cooking on an open grill grate, thread the shrimp on skewers or place in a grill basket. Grill shrimp under they just curl and are translucent, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Squeeze lime over the shrimp and serve warm or at room temperature with dip.

Tunisian Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro (leaves and some stems)
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley (leaves and some stems)
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch Cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Combine the cilantro, parsley, almonds and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add about 1/3 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the salt and pinch of cayenne pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 1 cup.

 Fresh Green Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 scallions (white and green parts) cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup fresh mint (leaves and some stems)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and some stems)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed (with seeds for more heat, without seeds for less)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water (optional)

Directions

With the machine running, drop ginger into the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add scallions, mint, cilantro, yogurt, jalapeño, lime juice and salt. Process to a textured paste similar in consistency to pesto, adding water to adjust the consistency, if desired.

Zucchini, Poblano and Ricotta Quesadillas with Guacamole and Black Bean Salsa

This is one of my favorite quesadillas and favorite vegetarian meals ever. It’s definitely not your traditional quesadilla. Dig it: Zucchini, Poblano and Ricotta Quesadillas.

The recipe comes from my Food Network Kitchens Favorite Recipes cookbook. Check out the filling below: poblano peppers add smoky heat, zucchini dusted with coriander adds a Middle Eastern flair, and the cheese — ricotta mixed with jalapeno, scallions, lime zest and cilantro — kicks in some more zip, a nice creaminess, plus freshness from the lime, cilantro and scallions.

So, not only are these full of flavor, they’re also pretty healthy! Served with fresh guacamole (yum!) and a black bean salsa, and you can’t go wrong.

The killer guacamole (recipe below) is also from my Food Network cookbook — it’s super chunky, spicy and fresh with a hit of garlic. Absolutely delicious. I’d never had guacamole until I came to California, and these days it (or simply avocado) will sell me on a recipe in a second.

The black bean salsa is a Rachael Ray. It’s smoky, hearty and has a nice spice to it from jalapenos. Sun-dried tomatoes add an unexpected, sweet tang.

TW’s Tips

  • Peeling the skin off charred poblano peppers is easier said than done. Char them as much as you can and use a paper towel to brush off the skin (it’s easier than trying to peel it).
  • If you’re making this for company, it’s easy to make the filling ahead of time and just assemble and fry up the quesadillas that day. Just nuke the filling a little bit to warm it up.
  • For the guac, leave it chunky — just mash it up slightly. It’s awesome to get a real nice piece of avocado in a bite of your quesadilla.
  • For the black bean salsa, I cut back on the barbecue sauce (I used about 1/4 cup), but next time, I might just use a couple of tablespoons. It overpowered the flavor of the beans a bit.
You’ve got to try this one!

Zucchini, Poblano and Ricotta Quesadillas

Ingredients

1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise about 1/3 inch thick
3 poblano chiles, stemmed, halved and seeded
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta (see tip below)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
2 scallions, sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (leave in seeds for extra heat)
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
4 12-inch flour tortillas
4 lime wedges

**Ricotta tip: you can find fresh ricotta at specialty cheese shops, or buy the ricotta in the tub at the grocery store and put it in a coffee filter-lined strainer over a bowl and refrigerate at least a couple of hours or overnight to drain off the excess moisture.

Prepare an outdoor grill with a medium-hot fire (grill pan works too).

Lightly brush zucchini and poblanos with olive oil with grill, turning as needed, until tender and lightly charred, about 4-6 minutes. Season the zucchini with coriander, salt and black pepper. Cut into bite size chunks and set aside to cool slightly. Peel skin from poblanos and thinly slice. (Peeling the skin is easier if it is charred. It will start to pull away from the pepper and you can peel it with your fingers. If you can’t get all of it off, don’t worry about it.)

Mix the ricotta, cilantro, scallions, jalapeno, lime zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Lay out the tortillas and spread one-quarter of the cheese mixture over half of each tortilla, leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Divide the grilled vegetables among the tortillas and fold tortillas in half. Brush lightly with oil, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and grill on both sides until the cheese warms and the outside is golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Place each quesadilla on a plate, scatter with cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges and salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe Hass avocados
  • 1/4 medium red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles (with seeds for more heat, without seeds for less), stemmed and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, diced
  • Juice of one lime (about 2 tablespoons)

Directions

Smash the garlic cloves, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt, and, with the side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Put in a bowl with onion.

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and score the flesh with a knife. Scoop the flesh out of their shells into the bowl with the onion.

Mix the tomatoes, cilantro, chiles, lime juice, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt with the avocados with a rubber spatula or large fork until just combined, keeping the guacamole chunky. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce (I use less)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Add a turn of EVOO to a skillet and add the onions, garlic and jalapeño pepper; sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add beans and corn to the pan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and barbecue sauce, then season salsa with salt and pepper. Transfer warm salsa to a serving dish.