Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pickin' on shrimp

For our Dinnertime Tuesday, I'm taking you all to my house on Christmas Eve.

Our dinner is a quilt of my husband's traditional Italian fish extravaganza, and the ironically Italian food my German family has made for Christams Eve for years and years.

For my husband, Christmas isn't Christmas without a table groaning under the weight of an ocean of fish. From fried chunks of succulent baccala to curly magenta tentacles of calamari, from salty anchovies to silvery smelt, there isn't a water-breathing beast safe while my husband is around. Especially juicy pink shrimp, which he pines to slather in a cocktail sauce so laden with horseradish it burns behind your eyes and makes you breathe so deeply you can feel the oxygen molecules in your blood.

At my house, Christmas Eve was usually lasagna or stuffed shells. Something more special than spaghetti, but easy to throw together hours beforehand and toss in the oven, forgetting about it until starving people gathered around the table. Then with a couple of quick steps, bubbling cheesy noodles are there like magic to satisfy the masses.

On Thursday, people will be gathered around my dining room table shoveling both traditions into their mouths as fast as they can. But in this post, you get the best of both in one lovely quick-to-make, easy-to-please pie.

Shrimp Scampi and pizza. Italian as the Mona Lisa, and great complements to each other. Shrimp, butter, garlic. What’s not to like? How about the expense? Instead of serving lots of pricey jumbo shrimp as a main dish, or using tiny, water-logged salad shrimp, stretch your shellfish budget by using good quality, middle-sized shrimp. Serving them on a crispy but filling crust means you can get away with fewer shrimp per serving, but everyone can have a real treat.

Buono Natale!

Shrimp Scampi Pizza

1 pizza crust

1 T. butter

1 T. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small sweet onion, chopped fine

1 lemon (zest and juice)

1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined (I use the 31-40 shrimp, meaning there are that many to a pound. If I can find bigger shrimp for a good price, I use that, but this isn't a place where you need the biggest you can find. It's also an easy recipe to cut down if you find good quality frozen shrimp in a 10-ounce bag. No one will really notice a few missing shrimp.)

½ c. white wine (No wine? Cheat. Use apple juice. It won’t be as dry, but it will still be darn good.)

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c. parmesan cheese

Fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pizza crust on baking sheet.

In a large skillet, melt butter in olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Add lemon zest, juice, shrimp, wine, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until shrimp is pink and firm, about 3-5 minutes. Spread on pizza crust. Top with parmesan cheese and parsley. Bake 8-10 minutes, just until cheese is melted. Overcooking will make shrimp tough.

Extra! Extra!!!

Statistical Slices – Americans are eating twice as much shrimp today as they did in the 1980s, more than a billion pounds a year. The only seafood more popular is tuna. (Source: Earth Summit Watch)

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