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Grilled Shrimp with Red Rice Salad

 Grilling season is in full swing, but before you know it, summer will be over and we’ll all move on to heartier soups and stews. But while the weather’s still warm and friends stop by for a barbecue, here’s a recipe to try before the season’s over:

 shrimp bathed in a herby, garlicky marinade, then threaded onto skewers and grilled over hot coals.
Try serving the shrimp over a rice salad, as I did, using a combination of red rice and white rice, plus a bunch of vegetables. You don’t have to be dogmatic about the recipe – just use whatever you have on hand or what you like. At this time of year, backyard vegetable gardens and farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh produce, so it’s easy to come up with flavorful combinations.
I never cooked with red rice until I spotted it recently at a local market. It’s commonly grown in the Himalayan mountains, Southern Tibet, Bhutan, Southern India and more recently, the Camargue region of Southern France. I learned that it’s a culinary and nutritional superstar, rich in minerals like potassium and magnesium. It’s also a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates. As if that weren’t enough, it’s loaded with antioxidants too, similar to what’s found in deep purple or reddish fruits and vegetables.
For this cold rice salad, I was afraid if I used red rice only, it might end up looking like dog food, so I added in some white rice to make it a little more visually appealing. I added lots of vegetables too, and honestly, with the shrimp skewers covering the top, the salad wasn’t even visible at first. I used a simple dressing of mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice, an idea from my buddy, Marie of Proud Italian Cook.
You can make the salad a day or even two ahead of time, freeing you up the day of your party or picnic. The shrimp can also be served cold, although I like them best when they’re hot off the grill.
Ciao Chow Linda is also on Facebook and Instagram. Click here to connect with me on Facebook and  here for my Instagram page to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
And if you live in the Central N.J. area, join me on Saturday, August 29 at 11 a.m. at the West Windsor Farmer’s Market, when I’ll be on a panel discussion with other food writers and photographers, including Rome-based Katie Parla and NJ Monthly columnist Pat Tanner.

Grilled Shrimp
for the marinade:
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced (the more the better)
minced fresh herbs (I used parsley, oregano, thyme and basil)
a few shakes of red hot pepper flakes
salt, pepper
2 pounds raw shrimp (I like to buy wild shrimp caught in the U.S.)
Mix all the above ingredients, except the shrimp. Clean the shrimp, removing the shells and cleaning out the central vein. Place the marinade and shrimp in a bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least two to three hours. Thread the shrimp on skewers and cook over a hot grill for about two minutes on each side. Alternately, preheat the broiler in your oven and cook for a couple of minutes.
Red Rice Salad
1 cup red rice
1 cup white long grain rice
5 cups water
3 carrots, cooked or raw, your choice, minced
1/2 cup minced green or red pepper
1 cup minced tomatoes, deseeded
4 scallions, chopped
2 ears of corn, raw or cooked, your choice, and cut from the cob
a large handful of minced herbs, your choice (I used parsley, thyme and oregano)
salt, pepper1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice

Cook the rice in water. Let the rice cool, then add all the other ingredients, except the mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and add to the rice, stirring it in thoroughly.  Taste and add more seasonings or more mayonnaise and lemon juice, according to your taste. Serve chilled with the shrimp skewers on top.

Grilled Shrimp with Pesto Pasta

 My last post was long. Very long. But there was a lot to tell — sorry if you tuned out.  If I l lost some of you on that you, you’ll be glad to see this one is blessedly short. And it’s about basil, everyone’s favorite summer herb, and shrimp too.

 If you’re growing basil, you’ve probably already had to cut it back at least once or twice and have made pesto a few times too. Here’s another way to enjoy that pesto. It’s not rocket science, but maybe you’ve never thought of putting the combo together. Just grill a few shrimp and you’ve transformed that ubiquitous pasta sauce into something a little special.
Don’t forget to put some of that pesto away in the freezer for the cold winter months ahead. You don’t have to use it only as a sauce for pasta (although that will be a nice reminder of summer when the January snows fall.) A tablespoon or two makes a wonderful addition to soups and stews too.
Grilled Shrimp with Pesto Pasta.
For two servings:
10 large shrimp (or however many you like)
4 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
springs of fresh thyme
salt, pepper
1 large plum tomato, peeled and deseeded and cut into strips (optional)
1/2 pound pasta (I used trofie, a classic shape for pesto)
about 1/2 cup of freshly made pesto alla genovese – directions below.
Grilled Shrimp
Buy large uncooked shrimp. Peel off the shells and devein the shrimp. Put the shrimp in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, some salt, pepper and fresh herbs. I used thyme, but oregano would work too. If you want the shrimp to have a little kick, add some dried red pepper flakes. Let it sit for at least 1/2 hour to marinate.
Get the grill good and hot and rub the grates with a paper towel that’s been coated with vegetable oil. This will help the shrimp not to stick to the grates.
Grill the shrimp for a couple of minutes on each side and add to the pasta that’s been already mixed with the pesto.
For each portion, I also added strips of one large plum tomato that I had peeled and deseeded. (To peel easily, drop the tomato into a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes.)
 
Pesto Recipe – Get the full instructions with photos here
Pesto Alla Genovese
The amounts aren’t exact. A lot depends on how firmly you pack the basil into the measuring cup, how large the garlic cloves are, and of course, your taste buds.

4 cups basil, loosely packed
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup Italian pine nuts, toasted, or pistachios (salted or unsalted), or toasted almonds or walnuts
extra virgin olive oil – as much as two cups, as needed to obtain a loose pesto.
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (or pecorino if desired)

If using a food processor: Tear leaves from stem, wash, dry and place in a food processor, along with the garlic, nuts and a small amount of the olive oil. Start with 1/2 cup and keep adding more until it flows smoothly when you dip a spoon into it, but not so thin that it falls off in a stream. Use your judgment.
Add parmesan cheese if serving immediately. If you’re planning to freeze it, don’t add the parmesan cheese until after you defrost it and are ready to serve.

If using a mortar and pestle, start with the washed and dried basil leaves, garlic and nuts and add a small amount of coarse salt to help break down the leaves. Pound with the pestle and slowly add a little bit of olive oil. Keep working the mixture with the pestle and add the rest of the oil as needed. The process takes a lot of patience and time.