Food & Drink

Test Kitchen recipe: Shrimp make for a Mediterranean diet-friendly treat

In this Grilled Shrimp with Bread Vegetable Salad recipe, the shrimp is brushed with a mix of olive oil, plenty of fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
In this Grilled Shrimp with Bread Vegetable Salad recipe, the shrimp is brushed with a mix of olive oil, plenty of fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Tribune News Service

One of the hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet is eating a variety of fish and other seafood.

But I often hear people say that they don’t eat enough of it because they don’t know how to prepare it.

While shrimp is often thought of as more of an appetizer, it fits right in as a main dish, too. Because shrimp is a lean source of protein, it can fit into your weekly seafood rotation.

Also, shrimp says special whether you’re throwing a casual dinner party on the deck or hosting a sit-down affair.

There are many options for buying shrimp at grocery stores or seafood markets (we won’t get into the farmed versus wild debate here). Having frozen shrimp on hand means you can whip up an appetizer or dinner in little time. It doesn’t take long to defrost. And you can buy shrimp already deveined and partially peeled. The latter option makes it easier to grill shrimp in their shells.

Today’s recipe was developed in honor of May being International Mediterranean Diet month. The designation began in 2009 and was started by Oldways (http://oldwayspt.org/), a Boston-based food and nutrition education nonprofit. The Mediterranean style of eating also is one that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts and healthy oils.

Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetics educator and health coach for BCBS of Michigan, says the benefits of a Mediterranean diet can help reduce risk of certain diseases.

“It’s a diet higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats,” Derocha says. “Saturated fats saturate your arteries more, while the others let the blood run through your arteries and veins more efficiently.”

When cooking, Derocha says, try to use olive oil because there is better unsaturated fat value.

Derocha also says meat is more of an afterthought with the Mediterranean diet, hence the focus on fish and shellfish.

In today’s recipe, the shrimp is seasoned like a traditional scampi-style dish sans the butter. Instead the shrimp is brushed with a mix of olive oil, plenty of fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. We grilled the shrimp, but you can pan-saute it, broil or bake it.

We served the shrimp with a bread salad similar to panzanella. Only this salad is heavy on the vegetables and herbs and light on the bread. We used half a multigrain baguette, cut it into cubes, tossed with olive oil and toasted. The main vegetables tossed in with the bread are tomatoes and kalamata olives. Tomatoes provide a bit of acidity and juice that softens the bread cubes. The kalamata olives provide a salty and briny flavor. Red onions provide a bit of spicy and the salad is finished with a drizzling of vinegar and oil.

If bread salad is not your thing, serve the grilled shrimp over regular or whole-wheat angel hair pasta.

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