Pan-Seared Shrimp with Mango, Cucumber & Peppadew Salsa

Like me, my mother runs her own business and lives outside the traditional 9-5 world.  Mondays have become her Saturday, and since I'm also in charge of my own hours, the two of us have taken to hanging out one or two Mondays a month.

We typically meet up around noon and spend the day running errands, working on projects, going to lunch, or simply just relaxing in my apartment catching up on things. On the days we stay in, I will usually prepare lunch. I make simple things like homemade vegetable soups or grilled chicken salads. This past week, we were both coming off a juice detox (my favorite Blueprint Cleanse, of course!) and so I decided to make something light. I found a package of frozen shrimp and within a few minutes had prepared the meal you see here--grilled shrimp topped with cucumber mango and peppadew salsa on a bed of organic baby spinach greens. It was so wonderful--fresh, light, sweet, and spicy-- and it literally took me about 15 minutes, from conception to plating.

I repeated this dish a few times since then, swapping out the grilled shrimp for chicken with equally delicious results, and then turning the shrimp and salsa into soft tacos on another occasion. I love the Peppadew peppers in this salsa as they add a beautiful sweet heat to the dish, but if you don't have any, you can substitute roasted red peppers and perhaps one or two teaspoons of pickled jalapenos just to get that heat. (If you're curious about Peppadew peppers, check out this post I wrote about them a couple years ago--plus the accompanying delicious peppadew, peach & feta salad.)

The salsa is so good that I'm sure it would be perfect to serve on its own with chips, or over other types of seafood (like this pan-seared tilapia) or perhaps even grilled skirt steak. The salsa keeps well in the fridge for about 10 days (it actually gets better the longer it sits), so feel free to make a big batch and try it on different foods throughout the week.

New to Always Order Dessert? Consider subscribing to my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates by filling in your address in the box on the right. If you're in the NYC area, be sure to check out my NYC dinner party style cooking classes and other private culinary concierge services.

And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to
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Thanks for reading!
Pan-Seared Shrimp with Mango Cucumber & Peppadew Salsa
Serves 4 as a light lunch

Print this Recipe

For the mango salsa
1 large ripe mango, diced into 1/2" cubes
1 large cucumber, diced into 1/2" cubes (no need to peel)
1/2 cup Peppadew peppers (or substitute roasted red peppers), coarsely chopped
1 small red or white onion, finely diced
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 2 large limes
1 teaspoon Tabasco or similar hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the shrimp
1 pound large frozen and thawed or fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on or off, as desired)
Zest and juice of 1 large lime
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for cooking
1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika (or substitute chili powder)
Kosher salt and black pepper

1 pound baby spinach, washed
Lime wedges for serving

First make the salsa. In a large bowl, combine the diced mango, diced cucumber, chopped Peppadew peppers, diced onion, and cilantro. Toss to distribute. Add the lime juice and hot sauce and toss again to coat evenly. Season generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Set aside. (The salt will draw out the natural juices from the ingredients so that the flavors will start to mingle.)

Place the spinach in a large bowl, then make the shrimp. Preheat a cast iron griddle pan or other heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat. While the pan heats, toss the shrimp with the lime juice, olive oil, paprika, and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper.  Toss to coat and let sit will the pan heats up. When ready, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, then use tongs to pick up the shrimp and add to the pan in small batches, making sure not to overcrowd. Let cook about 1-2 minutes on one side until slightly charred, then flip and cook the other side. When ready, remove from the pan and add to the bowl with the spinach. Repeat until all the shrimp are cooked.

Stir the salsa and top off the shrimp and spinach with it (use as much or as little as you'd like). Toss to coat, taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve with lime wedges.

Out With the Old: In With the New

I know this is a bit of a non-sequitur, but I've been doing a little winter cleaning and re-freshening around the house this month. It's a good way to start the year--getting rid of things that I don't really use or don't really have room for, and making way for new things to come into my life. That said, many of the things are still pretty wonderful, and so I've placed a bunch of them for sale on eBay so that they can find new homes. I plan to use any money I make from the sale towards fixing up my office so it's more of a proper workspace for me (and less of a cluttered storage room that happens to have a computer and printer in it).

There are some fun items in the shop right now, including vintage Gourmet, Good Housekeeping, LIFE, and other magazines from the 50s and 60s (including one fabulous issue featuring Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn!), some of my vintage pillbox hats from the 40s-60s (I collect them), and several other items. (Modern day stuff too, including a pair of gorgeous sparkly shoes.)

Anyway, just thought I'd let you know! If you see something you like and buy it, let me know you're a reader. I just may include a special surprise treat in your package. ;)

Click here to check out the items (I'll keep adding items over the next few days, so check back to see what's new!)



Kitchen Tip: DIY Herb Oil

Have herbs in your fridge that are about to die? Perhaps a huge bunch of basil that you were only able to use a couple times? Or some cilantro that you completely forgot about until it was nearly too late?

Save them and reduce food waste by taking out of the fridge, rinsing and removing any tough stems, then blitzing in the food processor or blender with extra virgin olive oil (I recommend about 3 parts oil to 1 part herb). Pour into a glass jar or container and store in the fridge. It will keep for a couple weeks and is wonderful drizzled over fresh mozzarella, spread on sandwiches, drizzled over pasta or soup, tossed with grilled shrimp or chicken, or just in a small bowl for dipping pieces of crusty baguette.

Perfect for quick and easy entertaining, or just for those nights when you want a low-key snack to enjoy while watching a movie or having a glass of wine.

Click here to read more tips on how to reduce food waste in your home.

Triple Chocolate Quinoa Granola

When it comes to breakfast, I'm firmly in the savory-over-sweet camp. I love the idea of a stack of blueberry pancakes or french toast or a waffle, but I never find them anywhere near as satisfying as an omelet filled with salty smoked salmon and barely-cooked onions or a cozy bowl of cheesy scrambled eggs. I love home fries and little patties of breakfast sausage or crisp slices of bacon. Occasionally I'll reach over and grab a bite of one of Eugene's pancakes but that's enough for me. I can never really do a full stack.

When I'm home, my breakfasts tend to be super simple, but always savory. Scrambled eggs with hot sauce or cheese, a quick breakfast burrito with greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or my favorite: egg sandwiches with cayenne and mayo on un-toasted whole wheat bread.

Which is why it was super weird when I woke up the other morning craving granola.

Granola?! I literally NEVER eat granola. The few times I have, it's been as a snack when there was nothing else available. Meaning on a plane or train or in an airport. Never for breakfast. Never when I have plenty of other options.

But nonetheless, the craving was there. And even more specifically, I wanted a bowl of sweet chocolate granola. Something which I'd never even had before.

So I wandered into the kitchen and got to work rummaging through my pantry and combining ingredients in a bowl. I was initially going to go with a basic oatmeal base, but then I spotted the quinoa and wondered if perhaps there would be a way to use that, instead to increase the protein content of the granola.

I've recently been experimenting with making quinoa flour by rinsing, toasting, and grinding the quinoa down for a high-protein (and gluten-free) flour alternative so I figured it would work without having to boil it first. I decided to give it a shot, and substituted half the oatmeal in my recipe with rinsed dried quinoa (I didn't bother to toast as that would happen while the granola cooked anyway).

To add lots of chocolate flavor, I used cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, and chocolate chunks (the later, which I added after the granola had already cooled). A generous amount of salt, plus some cinnamon for a warm touch and a few handfuls of sliced almonds, and the results were stunning! I've been enjoying small bowls of it as a mid-afternoon snack topped off with delicious whole milk.  The chocolate mixes with the milk (reminiscent of those sugary childhood cereals!) and the toasted nuttiness of the almonds and quinoa work beautifully in the final dish.

I offered Eugene a bowl for dessert one night, and though he's usually averse to oatmeal, he agreed, but asked if I could put whipped cream on it instead. I loved that idea and served him a bowl topped off with loosely whipped heavy cream (which I just shook in the carton by hand)--thick, but still loose enough to spoon it up like cereal.

Absolutely lovely.

New to Always Order Dessert? Consider subscribing to my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates by filling in your address in the box on the right. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!
Triple Chocolate Quinoa Granola
Makes 6-8 servings

2 cups rolled oats (not instant--for a gluten-free version, be sure to select gluten-free oats such as Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed well (OK if still moist after rinsing)
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds + an additional 1/4 cup (divided)
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional, but wonderful! Feel free to substitute flax or pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar ("sugar in the raw") OR substitute regular granulated white sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 rounded teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste if you prefer)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, quinoa, 1 1/2 cups almonds, chia seeds, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, turbinado sugar, honey, olive oil, and salt. Stir until completely combined and all pieces are coated with the honey and oil. (I just toss everything in my Kitchen Aid mixer and let the machine stir it up.)

Spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, or until completely toasted and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Add the remaining 1/4 cup almonds and the chocolate chunks and stir to distribute (I like the contrast of the toasted and raw almonds, but if you prefer all toasted, you can just add them at the beginning).
Serve room temperature with milk or yogurt, or as a snack. Store in an air-tight container in a cool spot or in the refrigerator.
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