Smoky Paprika Shrimp with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Garlic Yogurt Sauce

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Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-SauceYesterday, I was tired. (I’m tired today too, but that information is less essential to this story.)

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.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-2So, 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.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-3I 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!!”)

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-4I’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.)

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-5While 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.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-6As 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.

Oh, and get pumped for leftovers, people. This recipe is particularly bomb cold (the tabbouleh actually tastes better the next day), making it ideal for sassy desk lunching and summer picnicking.

Chest bump.

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)
4 pitas
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.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-step-1-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.)

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-step-2-Add the shrimp to the spice mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (and up to overnight).

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-step-3-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.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-step-4-Taste and season with extra salt and fresh ground pepper if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors mingle.

-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.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-step-7-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.”

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-step-5-Heat a lightly oiled grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shrimp skewers and cook for about 2-2½  minutes on each side until they’re opaque and cooked through.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-step-7-Serve shrimp with tabbouleh and yogurt sauce.

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-9I highly recommend piling the tabbouleh and shrimp on a warm pita…

Smoky-Paprika-Grilled-Shrimp-with-Quinoa-Tabbouleh-and-Yogurt-Sauce-9And then get weird with that yogurt sauce.


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  1. Michelle on February 3, 2015 at 11:41 am

    For the shrimp you have garlic listed twice in the ingredients list but only once in the directions. I’m assuming that the second on is just a typo and you only add 2 cloves to the shrimp.

    • Serena_Wolf on February 3, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Eek. Sorry for the mistake, Michelle! You’re assumption is correct–you only need to add 2 cloves of garlic to the shrimp.

  2. Tess Danesi on August 27, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Making this now! I subbed fregola for the quinoa because it’s my new obsession. Everything looks and smells divine!

    • Serena_Wolf on August 27, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      Excellent. I want to make this again! I’m ashamed to admit, I have yet to try fregola, but I’m going to get on it ASAP.

  3. Phoebe Lapine on August 11, 2014 at 10:32 am

    ahhhh I met your friend Mallie’s sister this weekend and she told me all about your Greece trip! I was seriously jealous of the zucchini fritters everywhere when I was there in June. When you get around to making them, can you invent a gluten-free version?? xoxo

    • Serena_Wolf on August 11, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Ah, I LOVE that she told you about it. (Did she mention my intense fear of the stray cats?) And the recipe I’ve been tinkering with in my head conveniently involves quinoa and lots of cheese for your gluten-free pleasure! xox

      • Phoebe Lapine on August 11, 2014 at 10:50 am

        She DID. And I totally get it. Greek cats are the creepiest cats ever. I may conveniently be available the day you make those to taste test…just saying.

  4. Rachel on August 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    An idea for your Domestic Details series: perhaps teach us (me) to peel and devein shrimp? It intimidates the hell outta me. I’ve done it and it takes me FOREVER and I always think there’s got to be an easier way. Then I see recipes like this and want to make it, but don’t because I don’t want to hassle with the raw shrimp. (Maybe there’s some tutorial out there that already exists and I should use The Google to figure that out, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway since your posts are my go-tos. :))

    • Serena_Wolf on August 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Rachel, I love the idea deveining shrimp as a Domestic Details tutorial. However, I am going to be completely honest with you, 99% of the time I just buy my shrimp peeled and deveined at the market. The fish counter at most markets usually have tiger shrimp (or other wild shrimp) that’s fully prepped with just the tails left on, so I suggest saving yourself the hassle! (Deveining is literally the WORST.)

      • Rachel on August 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

        HA! I love to hear that you hate it too. I currently live in a very small town and the seafood selection here sucks. So the raw fish/shrimp at the grocery store are usually both sketchy and not at all prepped. I’m actually moving to New York (in two weeks!) and am most excited about the food. I’ll just save all shrimp recipes for my arrival.

  5. Food, pleasure, and health on August 5, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    i saw those beautiful pictures from the wedding…quinoa tabbouleh will be perfect for my lunch box.

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