I had planned to make you zucchini fritters inspired by the time I spent in Greece a few summers ago with my friend Mallie. And I was excited to regale you with fabulous tales of driving across Crete with a pet (blow-up) dolphin named Tzatziki, haggling with locals over faux designer bikinis, getting lost on a deserted mountainside, stray cat attacks, and the joys of the cheesy zucchini balls that we lived on for almost a month straight.
I even had beach pictures of me and Tzatziki to show you. You would have loved it!
But like I said, I was tired, and after the wedding extravaganza I attended last weekend, dealing with mass quantities of hot oil/eating anything deep-fried seemed like a poor choice.
I had to go off-book.
So, I sat at my desk in a fog of Monday-post-Maine depression, racking my brain for something thrilling to cook. I pushed aside all grilled cheese and pizza-based thoughts (two-day time release hangover, WHY?!), and thumbed through the latest issue of Bon Appétit in the hope of sparking my genius creativity.
As per usual, BA worked its inspirational magic. Following an article on the Maine food scene (the irony!) was a spread on Lebanese grilling with a beautiful picture of cabbage tabbouleh studded with the juiciest summer tomatoes and bright green herbs. It practically jumped off the page, and I thought to myself, “That’ll do, Serena. That’ll do.”
I did some light brainstorming, made a sweaty quick trip to the grocery store, and before long, Smoky Paprika Shrimp with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Garlic Yogurt Sauce materialized in the Domesticate ME! kitchen. Hallelujah.
I can’t really classify this recipe as belonging to a specific cuisine (there’s clearly Mediterranean, Moroccan and Middle Eastern influences at work), so let’s just call it DANK.
A simple blend of smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and crushed red pepper give these addictive grilled shrimpies an amazing smokiness and a subtle heat. They’re the perfect topper for the incredibly fresh tasting quinoa tabbouleh, a gluten-free, fiber-rich riff on the classic recipe (which is made with bulgur) that’s packed with sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and plenty of chopped mint and parsley. It’s got texture for days, people. Seriously.
And the yogurt sauce! Cooling and garlicky with the perfect amount of tang, this simple condiment is the miracle glue that ties everything together, making each bite a glorious parade of summer flavors. (Even my roommate’s first coherent, non-expletive comment was “SO summery!!”)
I’m aware that the length of this recipe’s ingredient list and its multiple components will give some of you heart palpitations, but please take a second to read through the whole thing before you send me hate mail. It’s not nearly as scary as it looks (and I’m too vulnerable right now to handle virtual ill will).
I promise there’s a ton of ingredient overlap, and if you’ve followed my pantry/spice cabinet/refrigerator stocking instructions (gold star!), you probably have 70% of the necessary items in your kitchen. You’ll only need to cook the quinoa and shrimp, so most of the process is just simple chopping/marinating, and with a little organization, you should be able to pull this whole thing off in about 45 stress-free minutes.
You got this. (My current favorite SoundCloud can help.)
While this recipe is a great everyday meal option, it’s also a savvy choice for casual summer entertaining, since you can marinate the shrimp and make the tabbouleh and yogurt sauce up to a day in advance. All you’ll have to do come party time is throw the shrimp on the grill for 5 minutes, leaving you free to drink cocktails and accept compliments from your guests.
As you can see from these pictures, I piled my shrimp and tabbouleh on warm pitas and drizzled them with yogurt sauce. It was delightful, but that’s obviously just a suggestion. Glutards, feel free to swap in your favorite gluten-free tortilla, or keep things super light and ditch the wrap altogether. If you’re not into shrimp (I’m impressed you’re still reading!), chicken or lamb would be great substitutions, and vegetarians, you should probably go the tofu or halloumi cheese route. You know I like it when you do you.
Smoky Paprika Shrimp with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Garlic Yogurt Sauce: (Serves 4)
4-8 bamboo skewers
For the Quinoa Tabbouleh:
½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
½ lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a mix of red and yellow)
½ large seedless cucumber, diced
½ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
½ cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
For the Smoky Paprika Shrimp:
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
2½ tablespoons olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
For the Garlic Yogurt Sauce:
1 5.3-ounces container non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and white pepper (or fresh ground pepper)
For serving: (optional)
Freshly chopped parsley
Preparing your Smoky Paprika Shrimp with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Garlic Yogurt Sauce:
-First, let’s put your bamboo skewers in a shallow baking dish filled with about 2 inches of water. Soak them for at least 30 minutes to avoid grill fires, capiche?
-Pour the quinoa into a small saucepan and add ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes and fluff with a fork.
-While the quinoa is cooking, tackle the shrimp. In a shallow baking dish, whisk together the smoked paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic and olive oil. (It will be a pretty pasty, people.)
-While the shrimp is marinating, prep the tabbouleh. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic and olive oil with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mint and parsley, and toss to combine.
-Moving on to the yogurt sauce! Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. If it’s too thick, add a couple teaspoons of water until your desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate until ready to use.
-Now it’s time to cook the shrimp. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over your spiced shrimp and give them a toss. Thread the shrimp onto your soaked skewers. (I like to use two bamboo skewers for each kabob for stability.) You should be able to get 4-5 on each “kebab.”