Thursday, July 8, 2010

Honey-Chipotle Grilled Shrimp with Creamy Avocado Salsa

       Er. *Ahem*. Hi again.

       So this past 4th of July weekend, we held our first CrossFit South Hills BBQ. There was an amazing turn-out, and an even more amazing array of Paleo goodness: Tons of fresh fruits and veggies, grilled chicken, grass-fed steak, a couple of different vegetable salads and salsas, Paleo cookies, and these bad-ass bacon-wrapped, chicken-stuffed jalapenos that one of our members, Nathan, made. No one went home hungry, that's for sure.

      I brought several things to share that day, but the two stand-out dishes of mine were the honey-chipotle grilled shrimp and the avocado salsa.

     Apologies for the picture quality--the first night I made these we couldn't find the camera so we used Mike's camera phone. Getting this in our stomachs while it was still hot-off-the-grill took priority over getting a good photograph. (Hey, it happens.)

      The salsa recipe I found on Epicurious, tweaking it to better suit my Paleo/personal taste (used more tomato, wayyy less salt, olive oil in place of vegetable oil, etc.).  This site, as I've mentioned before, is my go-to favorite for Paleo recipe ideas.  Many of them (the meat and vegetable dishes, at least) are already Paleo, and others, like this one, are easy to 'convert.'

      Ok, first off, before we even get into anything else, I need to tell you about a delightful contraption I took possession of recently, that has made my salsa-making kitchen time way less sucky and tedious:

Behold! The Vidalia Chop Wizard!

     Seriously, this thing is awesome. I found it for $19.99 at Target, but I'm pretty sure you can get it anywhere that kitchen devices are sold (Walmart, Amazon, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, etc). If you're a stickler for uniform-sized chunks in your salsa and hate chopping stuff, this is for you. Anyway, I just had to give it a shout-out since it definitely made my life easier this past weekend.

      Back to the recipes!

Creamy Avocado Salsa
Serves 4

2 avocados
3-4 small-to-medium sized vine-ripened tomatoes
3/4 c. red onion, chopped fine
1 jalapeno, diced fine (more if you like more heat)
5 T lime juice
1 T extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1/2 teas. salt or to taste
  •   Chop up avocados. Not sure how to do this without messing it up? Here is a great How-To from Simply Recipes.
  • Set aside
  • Next, in a separate bowl, chop up your tomatoes. I seeded mine first. (Another How-To, here). In the same bowl, add onion, jalapeno, oil, salt, and lime juice.
  • Using your hands, gently fold the avocado into the the tomato mixture a little bit at a time. this will keep it from getting overly mushy.
     That's it! Now, a few things about this recipe: 5 tablespoons of lime juice is a lot. While I typically advocate the use of all-fresh ingredients, if you're on a tight budget, the recipe will still turn out fine if you use one of those little $.79 lime-shaped bottles of 100% lime juice you can get at the grocery store. I won't tell anyone, I swear.
       I said to use 3-4 tomatoes--this is a matter of personal preference. If you want avocado to be the shining star here, go with three. If you don't mind tomato playing the 'best supporting actress' role, add another one. Or two.
      Also, make sure your avocados aren't overly ripe. The couple of times I've made this recipe, I got slightly ripe avocados, and the salsa wound up with a creamy (as opposed to salsa-y) texture, hence the name of the recipe. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if you were to use really ripe avocados, it would wind up looking more like guacamole. Regardless though, I will admit that this isn't the prettiest salsa in the world, no matter what you do. It tastes good though--that's all that matters!
      This salsa will keep for a few days in the fridge--try it alongside some bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, or with grilled chicken breast for lunch.
    You definitely, DEFINITELY have to try it with the next recipe though! It is pretty much food nirvana when paired with the salsa. 
     This one is an original collaboration between me and Mrs. Dash. She is one sassy bitch.

    Honey-Chipotle Grilled Shrimp
Serves 2, with a little leftover. Leftovers are good.
    3 T honey (I used organic wildflower honey from a local farmer's market)
    4 T olive oil
    1 teas. cumin
    Salt to taste (one twist of my sea salt grinder is enough for me)
    Dash of oregano
    A few squeezes of lime juice
    20-25 medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  •  Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
  •  If it seems too thick (from the honey), whisk a small amount of warm water in it to thin it out a bit.
  •  Add lime juice
  •  Place shrimp in bag and pour most of marinade in to coat. Save small reserved amount to brush on while cooking.
  •  Fire up the grill.
  •  If you're going to do the skewer thing, skewer up those bad boys. Or use a grilling tray. This particular time, I used some pre-soaked cedar papers (found at Giant Eagle) and just wrapped a few shrimp in each, placing them seam-side down on the grill, which gave them a nice, woody taste that complemented the other flavors well. Whichever way you choose, shrimp cook pretty quickly, so you want to keep an eye on them.
  •  Grill on medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side, or until they turn opaque. You definitely don't want to overcook them, or they'll be tough and rubbery. No one likes rubbery shrimp.
      A few things about this recipe: This is one recipe that is virtually impossible to mess up. I made several batches of these at the bbq without proper measuring utensils and very approximate ingredient proportions--in fact, I think I stuck with a simple 3 spoonfuls honey, 3 spoonfuls olive oil, 3 spoonfuls Mrs. Dash ratio--sometimes more or less and it still turned out pretty freakin' good.
    Also, I've never really used lime juice in my cooking much before, but have always heard cooks on TV talk about how it 'brightens up a recipe.' I really had no idea what that meant until I gave it a shot with this.  If you taste the marinade before and after, you might experience the same "aha!" moment I did, so don't skip the lime unless you want to miss out on it's pleasingly subtle awesomeness. You could even add an extra squeeze of lime to the shrimp while they're cooking if you're an extra big fan of lime's zing.

     Good stuff!

     Before I go, here is a cool link that one of our members, Mike B. shared with us this week with lots of great, easy grilling ideas to keep things interesting this summer (not all are Paleo, but a good deal of them are):

101 Fast Recipes for Grilling

    Try any of these, or the recipes above? Have any suggestions? Let me know what you think!