Monday, September 14, 2009

Let There Be Light

Although I spend a good part of the summer longing for the fall chill that ushers in my cashmere wrap sweaters and riding boots (and my three meat chili, clam chowder, lamb chops, and a multitude of purees), I very much enjoy the ease of many summer dishes. And while a big bowl of cheddar cheese-topped chili is quite comforting on a cold day, there's nothing better during the warm summer months than an easy, breezy dish that's as light in effort as it is on the waistline. One of my favorite proteins to make that happen is seafood. Everything from fish to shellfish is a great option for fast and easy light dishes. Whether you want to roast in the oven, grill or sauté on the stove top, seafood can be both fast and healthy. I'd spotted a delicious shrimp taco recipe in Real Simple--my favorite new quick recipe source--that utilized cabbage, corn and hot peppers, all of which were currently taking up quite a bit of space in my fridge. It was a tasty and refreshing way to spend a hot night at home without feeling bogged down.

After months of dealing with finding new and exciting ways to serve cabbage, this recipe finally gave me something that I'd be more than happy to make again, and will definitely become a staple in my cabbage repertoire. These shrimp tacos utilize cabbage by making a simple slaw using fresh corn, jalapeños and a few spoonfuls of sour cream. The citrus was a welcome bit of fresh and sweet flavor that made this slaw stand apart from the often times cloying and mayonnaise ridden cole slaw that pops up in the summer. The ingredients added up to a flavorful slaw that was surprisingly waistline friendly for the serious flavor punch it packed (sweet, tart, and spicy--yum). And for once I didn't mind using something reduced fat, since I do find that certain brands of sour cream make really tasty, rich products despite being reduced fat (Daisy is especially good). The recipe says to let stand for at least 10 minutes, but I like using napa cabbage which has a little less crunch than a regular cabbage, so I went ahead and used it immediately.

Once I had the slaw down all that was left was to cook the shrimp. I added a few bay scallops to the mix just to add something else, and their sweetness was definitely a welcome addition that contrasted really nicely with the tart and spicy feel of the slaw. I gave the proteins a very light dusting of cumin and ground coriander since the recipe only called for salt and pepper, and I like for my tacos to have a hint of earthiness. They cooked up super fast, even beating the tortillas which I was just warming up wrapped in a kitchen towel. This dish made me quite happy, and the leftovers were good too (they made it all the way to work for lunch and held up great--just keep the tortillas separate and dry). I've posted the original recipe here minus my tweaks because I think the base recipe is a really good starting point for personalization. If you like lots of spice you can definitely kick that up a notch with more fresh chilies or a hint of your favorite hot sauce. If you like it tart, replace the orange juice with lemon or lime juice. Take it and make it your own. Whatever you do, keep it light and you'll have an amazing meal on your hands (you'll definitely get up for seconds).

Shrimp Tacos With Citrus Cabbage Slaw
adapted from Real Simple

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons sour cream

kosher salt and black pepper

1/4 small cabbage (8 ounces), shredded

1 cup corn kernels (from 1 to 2 ears, or frozen and thawed)

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp

8 small flour tortillas, warmed

1. In a large bowl, whisk the orange and lime juices, sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cabbage, corn, and jalapeño and toss to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Serve the shrimp with the tortillas and the slaw. Enjoy!


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