Some of the best dishes around here come not from the dozens of cookbooks that line my kitchen shelves, the glossy food magazines that arrive in my post box each month, or the thousands of recipe ideas on Pinterest. Instead, my best meals often spring from cooking on the fly, when time and ingredients are in short supply.
Such was the case with this Paprika-Spiced Shrimp, a one-skillet supper borne out of a simple need to feed people efficiently with just a few ingredients on hand: a couple of ears of corn, a forgotten bag of shrimp in the freezer, the last of the arugula tucked way back in the refrigerator, and a lone lemon in the fruit bowl. The meal came together effortlessly. Simple and satisfying, it was tasty enough that Virginia declared shrimp to be her new favorite food.
If you, like me, wonder about the provenance and sustainability of your shrimp, it’s worth taking a minute to consider your options. There can be a problem with by-catch when it comes to wild shrimp, which means other sea life get caught in the nets, some of them endangered, and become a sad casualty of the process. Farmed shrimp can have issues as well, both environmental and healthwise. To find suitable options, check out this link from Seafood Watch, which will help you navigate the waters, so to speak, of both wild and farmed shrimp. This article from Eating Well magazine also has some great tips on buying shrimp.
Once you sort out procuring your shrimp, you can enjoy its many benefits. Although high in cholesterol, shrimp is low in fat and calories and a good source of protein. Because of its small size and delicate texture, it cooks up in a flash. This quick-cooking quality is part of what makes this particular recipe a 15 Minute Fix. That is, a recipe that can be pulled together in 15 minutes or less.
So, gather your ingredients, stumble in after a long day, pull out this recipe, and have a warm meal on the table in no time. Who knows, maybe shrimp will become your favorite food too.
Paprika-Spiced Shrimp with Warm Corn Salad
This dish can stand alone, but is also tasty along with a fresh salad, or accompanied by taco fixings such as corn tortillas, salsa, and Cotija cheese. For heartier appetites, consider upping the shrimp to 1 1/4 pounds or more.
1 1/2 tablepoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
4 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if they’re large
1 large handful fresh arugula
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 fresh lemon
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and pour in 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Swirl the oil in the pan and add the onion. Saute for a few minutes until tender.
While the onion cooks, use a serrated-edge knife to shear the corn kernels off the cobbs into a bowl to catch them. Add the corn to the onion and saute for a minute or two until the corn is just tender. Add the tomatoes and arugula and give it a stir just until the arugula wilts. Transfer the corn salad to a serving platter.
Wipe out the pan to remove any remaining vegetables and set it back on the stove.
Lay the shrimp on your work surface and sprinkle a very small dash of cayenne and a generous dash or 2 of paprika on top of each shrimp. Go easy on the cayenne, especially if you are sensitive to spicy foods. No need to season the second side.
Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Give the pan a swirl to distribute the oil and lay the shrimp in the pan. Cook until the shrimp turn pink and lose their transluscency, turning halfway through. They will cook in just a couple of minutes.
Transfer the cooked shrimp on top of the corn salad. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.