August 20, 2009


Vegetarian readers – avert your eyes.

For the rest of you – yes, those are shrimp.  And yes I made them.  I also made mini crab cakes that I would have taken a picture of if they had not been devoured by people sneaking into the kitchen before I could even get them to the table.  Here is the thing.  We invited about 65 people to the party.  Because it’s summer and lots of people are out of town, somewhere between 45 and 50 showed up.  Five of those people are veg, myself included.  I know our meat-eating friends like my food – I just felt it was a lot of ask of everyone to make everything veg.  And because I am not, nor have I ever been a soap-box-standing vegetarian, I decided to use some “protein” that wasn’t tofu.

I had never made shrimp but was assured on Twitter that it was easy and even got a few awesome recommendations of how to serve them.  In the end, I decided to go with a recipe from Mr. John Ash, Napa cuisine pioneer and author of one of my favorite cookbooks that isn’t vegetarian –From the Earth to the Table.

The shrimp were marinated for two hours in a mixture of olive oil, white wine, green onions, and herbs.  I decided to make two sauces, also from Mr. Ash.  One was a red pepper aioli and the other a fruit salsa and I think both were well received.

One Year Ago:  Summer Succotash

Grilled Shrimp
Adapted from From the Earth to the Table
Serves 4-6

I tripled this recipe and then my husband went out and bought another two pounds.  There was not a single shrimp left.  I bought one of those grill pans so we could grill many of them at a time, but you could just use skewers.  I used peeled de-veined shrimp for obvious reasons, but Ash says you can grill them with the shell on.

1 pound extra-large shrimp (16 to 20 per pound)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. minced or pressed garlic
1 tbsp. minced green onion, both white and green parts
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tbsp. dry white wine

Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, green onion, oregano, salt, pepper flakes, and wine and marinate the shrimp for a maximum of 2 hours, covered, in the refrigerator.

Grill or broil the shrimp quickly, about 1 to 2 minutes per side, until they just turn pink.  Be careful not to overcook.  Shrimp should remain slightly transparent int he middle.

Melon-Pineapple Salsa
Makes 2 cups

1 cup diced melon
1 cup diced fresh melon
1/2 tsp. seeded and minced serrano chile
1 tbsp. finely diced sweet red onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, carefully stir together the melon, pineapple, chile, and red onion.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and honey and pour over the fruit mixture.  Gently stir in the chopped cilantro.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Red Pepper Aioli
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

This recipe seemed to make a lot more aioli than we needed for the shrimp but it’s great as a dip for vegetables and for roasted potatoes.  It is also delicious as a sandwich spread.

2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 roasted, peeled, and chopped red peppers (DT: I used them from a jar.)
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2/3 cup olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drops of hot sauce

Add the egg yolks, garlic, bell peppers, and mustard to a blender or food processor.  With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil to form an emulsion.  The mixture should be thick but not stiff.  Season to taste with lemon, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  1. When we entertain I try to have something for everyone-meat eaters included:) Hubs usually takes over on those dishes though. My hubs doesn’t eat red meat but he likes chicken, pork, and fish. He is really good about eating mostly vegetarian though. But for guests we aim to please! Love your spread!

    Comment by Maria — August 20, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  2. I love that cookbook! He’s so creative when combining flavors, and I love that his recipes represent typical California cooking. Broiling/grilling shrimp is the way to go. Even when I add them to pasta or rice, I broil them first, then add them to the dish at the last minute. Otherwise, they get soft, mushy and flavorless. Great recipe!

    Comment by Allison Arevalo — August 20, 2009 @ 6:10 pm

  3. I’ve cooked beef and even lamb sausage for a party. It’s odd to prepare something that I don’t want to taste and then am not sure of the result. Your shrimp, however, looks great, and the red pepper aioli sounds fantastic.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — August 20, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

  4. Very nice of you to cook these for your guests! The salsa and aoili sound really yummy.

    Comment by Ashley — August 21, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

  5. I love shrimp and the aioli sounds delicious!

    Comment by veron — August 22, 2009 @ 12:27 am

  6. You are much kinder than I am Dana!

    Comment by Jacqueline — August 23, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  7. You are brave. Great job on the shrimp! Hope you enjoy your trip. See you soon!

    Comment by redmenace — August 24, 2009 @ 5:23 am

  8. The shrimp sound lovely–especially with the fruit salsa. Everything sounds so tropical and yummy :)

    Comment by HappyTummy — August 28, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  9. I love shrimp and these look amazing. I rarely make them so I’m definitely going to bookmark this for the future.

    Comment by kickpleat — August 30, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

  10. enjoyed Ash&Co very much will have to pick up his cookbook- must be wierd to prepare food you dont really want to eat-have not had to really do that yet since the wife has not forced me to cook chicken livers yet-LOL

    Comment by KAHUNA — August 31, 2009 @ 4:05 am

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