Add Frozen Shrimp to Your Staples
By Karen Schulz
One Wednesday at noon, a friend asked me what I was going to make for dinner. I had no idea. I’m famous for winging it, or if I’m being totally honest, procrastinating. I ended up making this tweaked version of Ina Garten’s fennel and garlic shrimp recipe and posted a picture of it on Instagram. The next Wednesday, my same friend said, “Really Karen? How can you not know what’s for dinner at noon and then whip out that crazy dinner?” The answer is simple; you should always keep a two-pound bag of frozen uncooked, peeled, tail-on shrimp from Costco in your freezer.
The key to delicious easy dinners is keeping certain staples on hand at all times. Frozen shrimp is one of them. Not only does shrimp cook quickly, it’s a great protein alternative to the often over-served chicken or beef options.
It was late in the afternoon, maybe 5 p.m., when I decided to make this dish and all I had to pick up was a fennel bulb and baguette. Since I had made this dish before, I had the bottle of Pernod on hand, and all the other ingredients are always in my house. (Do not be afraid of fennel, the flavor mellows and is a great compliment to the garlic.)
This shrimp recipe is the perfect solution to a late-night dinner, because it is so light. I served it with a baguette and Ina’s balsamic roasted beet salad, also very easy. Beets are another staple for me. I roast my own, however, if you know you want to make this salad, you can buy beets already roasted at June and Ho. And if you don’t keep Marcona almonds in your cupboard, you absolutely need to pick some up next time you are at June and Ho while buying your pre-roasted beets; you will never not have them on hand again. Marcona almonds are perfect for snacking, make an elegant peanut substitution for cocktail parties, and are delicious in salads.
Go out and stock up on these staples, so you can wing them into delicious dinners as well.
Fennel Garlic Shrimp
8 T. olive oil
1 fennel bulb, chopped (fronds reserved)
10 cloves minced garlic
½ t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 lbs. shrimp, defrosted
2 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T. Pernod
1 t. sea salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender but not browned. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the garlic just begins to brown.
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and toss together with the fennel and olive oil. If your pan is large enough, spread the shrimp in one layer and cook over medium for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until they are pink and just cooked through. If your pan is too small to spread shrimp in one layer, stir often until all shrimp are pink and cooked through.
Off the heat, sprinkle with parsley, 1 to 2 tablespoons of the chopped fennel fronds, the Pernod, sea salt, and black pepper and serve it with the bread to soak up the pan juices.