It was another holiday, and another reason to ask myself “why eat out?”
Dani and I always joke that Valentine’s Day is, pretty ironically, not a huge day on our calendars. The thing is, we’ve been together for seven years–and six of them were long distance. From the beginning, when we had to plan our meet-ups in advance, we usually had to choose between Valentine’s Day, and my birthday just over a week later. Now that we live together, we’re starting to enjoy the February 14th spectacle along with everyone else– but when it’s time to eat, I’d still much rather handle the food myself.
From my first attempts to impress her in college, to my current challenge to keep cooking things that she hasn’t tasted before, I’ve learned that simple ideas often work best. Cooking is my creative outlet, but sometimes I come up with ideas that are too elaborate to replicate on the first attempt–not something on which to base a special occasion. When I reign in (some) of the frills, I can focus on doing a few things really well.
In this case, it was the sauce–once I decided to make the sauce the focal point of the dish, everything else got simpler. I charred a few bell peppers, and garlic under the broiler, and blended them with parsley, thyme, rosemary, lemon juice, and spices. I immediately knew it was a winner.
Next, I dusted some prawns with cornmeal, and pan fried them with andouille sausage. It wasn’t necessary, but I ended up returning everything to the pan just for the photo…
The crispy shells add a lot of flavor, and though it’s not necessary, you can even eat them–sometimes I do– just discard the head, legs, and tails. Regardless, I’d suggest you keep the shells next time you make shrimp–at least use them for stock!
Once everything else was cooked, the last step was to make some mini parmesan toast to soak up the excess sauce. You can’t really see it in either picture, but it made this small plate a bit more filling–though we still ended up going back for more. Soon, so will you…
1 lb Head-On Prawns
2 Andouille Sausages
2 Bell Peppers, seeded and charred
4 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Cup Parsley, chopped
1 Dried Guajillo Chili
1 Roll, sliced thinly
2 Limes, juiced and zested
2 Tbs Parmesan
2 Tbs Lemon Thyme
2 Tbs Dried Rosemary
2 Tbs Fenugreek Powder
1 Tbs Dried Basil
1 Tbs Coriander
1 Tbs Chili Flakes
4 Tbs Butter
2 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Use scissors to remove the “vein” along the back of the shrimp, then trim the legs and antennae, and transfer to a large bowl. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towel, then season with salt, pepper, paprika, and dust with rice flour.
- Slice bell peppers in half, and remove the seeds and pith. Transfer pepper, and smashed garlic to a heady pan, drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place under the broiler until the peppers begin to char, then carefully transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Blend peppers, and garlic with salt, pepper, paprika, coriander, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and lime juice/zest. Once pureed, stir in olive oil, and taste for seasoning.
- Sear the sausage slices on medium-high heat, then transfer to a heat-safe plate. Add butter, and oil as needed to fry the prawns on both sides until the shrimp turn bright orange. Transfer to drying rack to maintain crispness until ready to serve.
- Brush sliced bread with olive oil, then add parmesan, salt and pepper and broil briefly until crunchy.
- Plate, and serve.