The bleaker the weather, the brighter the food, I say. January can be a cold, wet, and dark second act following the holiday season. A perfect antidote is to create light and vibrant food to ward off the seasonal blues and balance out any holiday excess. These tacos channel the south and beyond the border with blackened shrimp piled on Baja-inspired tacos. They are vibrant and wholesome; not bogged down by any heavy sauces, cheeses, and meat. A citrusy salsa and fresh avocado are light and healthy accompaniments refreshing in their simplicity. The tacos are easy to prepare, only requiring just a fair amount of chopping, which is a simple activity that distracts from any inclement weather outside. And, perhaps best of all, they are fun to eat, inviting interaction and hands-on noshing.
The blackened spice blend is meant to have heat, but feel free to adjust the cayenne to your taste. In fact, make a double batch to keep on hand to season fish and chicken for later meals. Store any remaining spice blend in a jar in your pantry.
Spicy Shrimp Tacos Serves: 4 Active time: 25 minutes Total time: 25 minutes
Crema: 2/3 cup whole milk Greek yogurt 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or to taste Pinch of kosher salt
Salsa: 1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped 1 cup defrosted frozen yellow corn 1 small poblano pepper, seeded, finely diced 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 small garlic clove, minced 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 large (18/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact optional 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1 large ripe but firm avocado, halved, sliced crosswise Flour or corn tortillas, warmed Cilantro leaves for garnish Lime wedges
Whisk the crema ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until use.
In a separate bowl combine the salsa ingredients, and then taste for seasoning.
Combine the spices in a small bowl. Toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl. Add the spices and stir to thoroughly coat the shrimp.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Carefully arrange the shrimp in one layer in the pan, without over-crowding (in batches if necessary). Cook until charred and cooked through the center, about 4 minutes, turning once.
To serve, arrange a few slices of avocado on a warmed tortilla. Spoon some of the salsa over, then top with shrimp. Drizzle with some of the crema. Garnish with cilantro and serve with the lime wedges for squeezing.
Holiday festivities are muted and gatherings reduced this year, inspiring feelings that toggle between a yearning for glitter and a craving for comfort. How to celebrate and what to eat strive for a balance between these mixed desires. In my mind, the following recipe achieves just that. It’s simple yet elegant, special but not pretentious, and relies on a short list of honest ingredients that drive wonderfully fresh flavor.
I grew up in New England, where lobster is ubiquitous. It’s the quintessential summer food, associated with the seashore and bare feet, picnic tables and messy eating, accessorized by dribbling butter, nutcrackers, and paper bibs. Now, many years and moves later, I rarely eat lobster. When I do, it’s usually on special occasions. The once standard summer fare has morphed into a celebratory splurge, and there’s no time better for such an indulgence than the holidays, when shellfish and crustaceans go ever so well with a glass of bubbly.
This is a recipe for this time. It’s understated and comforting, yet carries the swag of fresh cooked lobster meat. The method is simple, allowing the lobster to shine without bogging it down with heavy or precious ingredients; it humbly yet elegantly gives the lobster (and its necessary splurge) the respect and appreciation it deserves.
If you prefer not to use lobster meat, shrimp are an excellent and more economical alternative, and they will bump this recipe onto your roster of easy weeknight meals. When using shrimp, simply sauté them in olive oil with a pinch of salt before adding them to the dish.
Spaghetti with Lobster
Serves 4 Active Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes
1 pound spaghetti or bucatini Salt 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 pound grape tomatoes, halved 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for garnish 1 pound cooked lobster meat, as chunky as possible 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn, plus extra for garnish Lemon wedges
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook 1 minute less than al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down and their juices release, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until fragrant and the tomatoes soften further, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper and taste to adjust.
3. Add the lobster meat to the skillet and stir to coat. Add the drained pasta and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid. Continue to stir over medium heat until the dish is well combined, adding 1/4 cup more liquid at a time to your desired consistency. The sauce should be glossy and evenly coat the spaghetti without being stodgy. Stir in the basil.
4. Divide the pasta between serving plates and garnish with additional basil, freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
This bright and festive starter is part-salsa, part-ceviche. It’s not meant to be a simple dab to complete a chip, but rather a command to attention with a jumble of shrimp in a kaleidoscope of colorful ingredients. In this concoction, sweet and briny shrimp are lightly poached and steeped in a bright citrusy sauce that continues to “cook” and infuse the shrimp with flavor. A whole bunch of fresh ingredients, are added to the mix, including chile peppers, tomato, and corn, which add substance and round out the flavors with juicy sweetness and heat. Serve the salsa with tortilla chips for scooping, or simply spoon it over garden greens and call it a salad. You can also wrap the salsa lettuce leaves for fun finger food (just pass the napkins). No matter how you serve it, it’s guaranteed to steal the show.
Fiesta Shrimp Salsa
Active Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time Serves 6 as an appetizer
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded, diced 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped Corn kernels from one ear of yellow corn 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup 1 jalapeño chile pepper, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup fresh lime juice 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp, cover the pot and remove from the heat. Let the shrimp poach until bright in color and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool the shrimp to the touch, then coarsely chop. 2. Combine all of the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro, in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning. 3. Cover and refrigerate the salsa for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro before serving.
When summer fades and the season tilts to autumn, this steamy bowl of buttery clams hits the spot.
I experienced a bowl like this one day last fall. I was researching a travel story on the northern coast of the Olympic peninsula in Washington. If there’s a furthermost corner of the northwest U.S., then this is it. The peninsula is dominated by the Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which sprawls several ecosystems, including mountainous peaks and old-growth forests. Numerous cultural, archeological, and historic sites are woven throughout the landscape, spanning millennia of human occupation from indigenous first cultures to more recent histories of exploration, homesteading, and community development.
On this trip of discovery, the weather was gray, foggy, and misty with intermittent (i.e. frequent) rain showers in true Pacific Northwest form. Yes, it was seasonally wet (the fall season brings the rain). It was also magical, mystical, and magnificent. The horizon loomed with teetering mountains, shrouded in swirls of clouds and fog and bedecked with garlands of waterfalls cascading into serpentine lakes. It was desolate, due in part to the weather and also the season. I had the roads to myself snaking through canyons, interrupted occasionally by logging trucks barreling past and shocking me out of my reverie. I hiked to a ridge, rain be damned, with distant views to British Columbia, through a mist-laden rain forest lush with moss. I traced a river to a roaring crescendo of water tumbling from a precipitous ledge, and I saw salmon spawn.
By the end of the day, cold, soggy, and famished, I returned to sea level to a small fishing town anchoring the mountains to the sea. There were no restaurants open at 4 pm, but for one lone storefront illuminated in the drizzle, with a fish market that provided counter service, where I ordered a simple bowl of garlicky clams steamed in wine and swimming in their buttery juices, buttressed with slabs of garlic bread for soaking up the sweet broth. The singular accompaniment was an icy glass of snappy local riesling. It was perfect.
Since then, I’ve recreated this dish at home a number of times. It’s simple and consistently rewarding. The only thing missing is the weather.
Butter and Garlic Clams
Littleneck clams are my preferred type of clam for this recipe. They are the smallest Quahog clam with sweet and tender meat. Depending on their size, one pound yields 8 to 12 clams. When cleaning clams, discard any opened clams or clams with broken shells before washing. Rinse the clams under cold water, gently scrubbing them clean. Once cooked, discard any unopened clams before serving.
Active Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes Serves 2 to 4
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 cups un-oaked white wine 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 pounds littleneck clams, about 24, rinsed and scrubbed clean 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves Lemon wedges for serving
1. In a large deep skillet with a lid melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and add the clams. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and steam the clams until the shells have opened, shaking the pan from time to time, 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the clams.
2. Remove the lid and discard any unopened clams. Taste the broth and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Divide the clams and cooking liquid between serving bowls and garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately with garlic bread or crusty bread.
Yes, you can eat warm soup in the summer – especially when it’s chowder. Clam and fish chowders go hand in hand with sunshine and the seashore. While clam chowder is always a favorite, I prefer to make fish chowders, loaded with chunky fish swimming in a smoky, creamy broth.
When making a fish chowder, always choose a firm-fleshed fish, which will hold its shape when cooking in the soup. Delicate, flat filets will flake and dissolve in the broth. While halibut, sea bass, and cod are always good options, I prefer salmon. Salmon’s buttery-rich flesh complements the creamy stock, and when possible, I’ll combine chunks of warm-smoked salmon with fresh salmon. Warm-smoked salmon adds the salty, smoky note essential to a deeply flavorful chowder (this is often achieved with bacon in clam chowders), and has a dry and firm consistency, unlike cold-smoked salmon, which is soft and slippery. Potatoes are another key ingredient, adding thickening starch and substance. And while you can certainly stop there, I encourage adding additional vegetables, such as leafy greens and crucifers, such as cauliflower or broccoli. Then you can pat yourself on the back and call your bowl of chowder a complete meal.
If you’re skeptical about the extra veggies, don’t worry – the creamy, robust chowder can handle them. In fact, vegetables add a welcome earthiness to the rich soup and balance its creaminess. If you are cauliflower-averse, feel free to omit it and add more spinach. Be sure to taste for seasoning when the soup is finished. Depending on the saltiness of the smoked salmon you may need more salt, and don’t (ever) skimp on the freshly ground black pepper.
Salmon and Spinach Chowder
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped, about 1 cup
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (peeling optional – I like keeping the skin on)
1 1/2 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound salmon filet, skin and pin-bones removed, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1/2 pound hot-smoked salmon filet, skin and pin-bones removed, broken into bite-size chunks
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
Fresh dill for garnish
Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened without coloring, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook until slightly toasty in aroma, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour in the water and whisk to blend. Add the potatoes and cauliflower. The vegetables should be submerged in the soup. If not, add more water to cover. Bring to a boil, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cream, Tabasco, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
Add the fresh and smoked salmon and simmer until the fresh salmon is cooked, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the spinach and simmer until just wilted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Taste for seasoning.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with dill. Serve immediately.
Shelter-in-place should not be the only time you make this pasta dish. It’s a keeper.
This pantry-inspired recipe can be on the table in 15 minutes, so add it to your repertoire of easy weeknight dinners.
By now we’re accustomed to digging through our pantries for dinner inspiration. I try to view it as a fun cooking challenge and an opportunity to (finally) use the stacks of canned, jarred and frozen goods that seem to have permanently populated my cabinets or burrowed themselves into the depths of the freezer. This pasta dish is a result of my kitchen foraging. The thing is, it’s also a delicious meal, and I wonder why I haven’t made it more often.
Chances are, you already have the main ingredients – canned or jarred tuna, frozen peas, and dried pasta – stashed in your kitchen. Tuna is a simple, nutritious, and flavorful addition to pasta. In fact, spaghetti al tonno is an Italian classic. When possible, use a sustainably sourced tuna, and don’t shy away from tuna packed in olive oil, especially for this recipe. It’s the oil that contributes flavor and richness to the dish. Peas’ natural sweetness brightens the pasta and complements the briny tuna. I also add fresh chile pepper. If you don’t have one, then increase the amount of dried red pepper flakes to 1 teaspoon.
Spaghetti with Tuna, Peas, and Lemon
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
12 ounces spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 (7-ounce) can or jar of tuna, packed in olive oil, drained
1 small red jalapeño pepper, seeded, thinly sliced (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then add the peas and sauté until heated through, about 1 more minute.
Add the tuna, jalapeño (if using), lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Turn off the heat and gently stir, without over-mixing, to break up the tuna while maintaining a chunky texture (you don’t want to cook the tuna).
When the pasta is ready, add to the skillet. Over low heat, gently stir to combine and coat the spaghetti. If too dry, add some cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to moisten to your taste. Divide the pasta between serving bowls. Garnish with the dill and additional lemon zest.
Greet January head-on with a steaming, aromatic bowl of coconut shrimp curry:
Satisfying soups and stews heady with spice, spark the senses and hint of sunny far-flung destinations. You might call it escapism, but I can’t think of a better way to embrace winter. This curry is rich, bright, and potent with flavor. It’s also easy to make and extremely versatile. You can add additional vegetables to the stew, such as carrot and cauliflower. A squeeze of lime juice is essential to brightening the broth with a kick of acidity. Best of all, this dish can be prepared in 30 minutes – which leaves you just enough time to cook some rice.
Coconut Shrimp Curry
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated fresh peeled ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 (28-ounce) can chopped Italian plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, each quarter sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional)
Cooked basmati rice for serving
Lime wedges for serving
1. Heat the oil in deep skillet or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the curry powder and continue to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
2. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, and zucchini. Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook until they turn pink and are just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Stir in the 1/4 cup cilantro, the lime juice, salt, and black pepper and taste for seasoning. If desired, add 1 to 2 teaspoons brown sugar to balance the flavor.
4. Ladle into bowls with cooked basmati rice. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
I confess: Foodie I may be, parent I certainly am, and health-minded … almost without fail – but there is always a time and place for nachos. We can all do with a little cheesy nacho goodness from time to time to balance out a healthy diet, to dig into with our hands, and to wash down with an ice cold drink. And as a heaping platter of chips goes, this one is relatively, um, light. Is it possible to call nachos healthy? Where there is a will, there is a way.
This recipe for fun food isn’t as decadent as you might think. On the nacho scale of goop and weight, it scores relatively high on lightness and freshness. Sure, it’s layered with the requisite melty cheese (as any bonafide nacho plate should). Otherwise, it is not bogged down with mounds of meat, cream, and beans rendering its nest of chips soggy and heavy. Instead, there’s a generous helping of plump garlicky shrimp, and a colorful smattering of chopped fresh vegetables and herbs, such as tomato, onion, avocado, and cilantro, layered throughout the chips in the spirit of a deconstructed salsa.
The point is that these nachos are tasty, more-ish finger food, inviting interactive, family-style dining. And we can also all do with a little fun and togetherness when it comes to sharing our food and eating. These nacho score top points for that.
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound medium (21/25) shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large ripe, but not mushy, avocado, diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 to 10 ounces salted tortilla chips
4 cups grated sharp Cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese
3 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 large vine-ripened tomato, cored and seeded, diced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the shrimp in one layer and cook until pink and just cooked through, turning once, 2 to 3 minutes. (It’s ok if the shrimp are a little under-done. They will continue to cook in the oven.) Transfer the shrimp to a plate lined with a paper towel.
2. Combine the avocado, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and gently stir to coat.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread half of the tortilla chips in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or sheet pan. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups cheese, half of the white scallions, half of the jalapeños, and half of the red onion over the chips. Spread the remaining chips over the top and sprinkle 1 1/2 cups cheese over the chips. Scatter the remaining white scallions, jalapeños, and red onion over the top. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the nachos are hot, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn on the broiler.
4. Arrange the shrimp over the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese over the shrimp. Transfer to the oven and broil until the cheese melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the avocado, tomatoes, green scallions, and cilantro evenly over the top. Serve immediately.
Fire up the Paella Pan (and the Grill) for Father’s Day
Father’s Day is around the corner, so get ready to fire up the grill and break out the big guns – or in this case, the big paella pan. Paella is always fun to make and of course, to eat. It’s a perfect way to feed a crowd and your family, and the best way to make it is over a fire. When it’s ready to serve, simply plunk it down in the center of the table and let everyone dig in. Family-style eating doesn’t get better than this, which is a perfect way to celebrate Dad.
Myriad versions of paella exist, depending on region and taste, but there are specific ingredients to use and techniques to follow for authentic results.
Think wide, low, and flat. The key is to spread the rice in a thin layer, so that as many grains as possible are in contact with the bottom of the pan. This will ensure not only contact with the aromatics (soffrito) but the desired crispy bottom (socarrat) of the cooked paella. Paella pans are easy to find and affordable. I purchased my 15-inch pan for less than $30. Alternatively, a very large cast iron skillet will do the trick.
Short grain rice will absorb the liquid, remain relatively firm during cooking, and crisp – long grain rice will not. Use short grain rice, preferably Spanish Bomba or Valencia. Risotto (Arborio) rice may be substituted, if necessary. Note: Depending on the rice, cooking times may vary slightly.
An important blend of sautéed aromatics, typically onion, garlic, and grated ripe tomato, is used as a base to flavor the rice. It’s important to sauté the ingredients until the moisture from the tomato and the wine evaporate and the soffrito thickens, and let it deepen in color to build flavor.
If possible, use a homemade stock, chicken or shrimp stock are ideal, although a good quality store-bought chicken stock is a fine substitution. A key step is to add a generous pinch of saffron to the stock to infuse a subtle perfume and a burnished golden-red color.
This is the holy grail of paella, the coveted crispy bottom that forms in the pan while the paella is cooking. To achieve this, a few techniques are imperative. Do not overload the pan, or the rice will not be able to dry out and will not crisp. And, most importantly, do not stir the paella once the rice is spread in the pan and topped with the proteins. You will know if the rice is crisping when the paella begins to make crackling sounds. This is the sure-fire way to know when the paella is ready, so be sure to wait for the “snap-crackle-pop” before you remove the pan from the grill!
Grill it! It’s important for the pan to cook over an even heat source. A grill can accommodate the size of a large paella pan, unlike many stovetops. Plus, the fire will add a smoky backdrop to the dish. And finally, Father’s Day really wouldn’t be replete without turning on the grill, right?
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, plus standing time
4 plum (Roma) tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
Smoked sweet Spanish paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound large (16/18) shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails intact
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces Spanish chorizo, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
1 medium yellow onion, chopped, about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups paella rice (Bomba or Valencia), rinsed
12 to 16 mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Lemon wedges for serving
1. Grate the tomatoes, cut-side down, on a box grater. Discard the skins and transfer the pulp and juices to a small bowl.
2. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the saffron and keep warm over low heat.
3. Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon paprika, and then lightly season with salt and black pepper. Put the shrimp in a separate bowl and toss with 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and then lightly season with salt and black pepper.
4. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Preheat a 15-inch paella pan or large cast iron skillet for about 10 minutes.
5. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the paella pan. Add the chorizo and cook until the chorizo is golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes, turning as needed. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl. There should be rendered fat from the chorizo remaining in the pan. If not, add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Arrange the chicken in one layer in the paella pan and cook until colored on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes, turning as needed. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the bowl with the chorizo. (The chicken will not be cooked all the way through at this point.)
6. If the pan is dry, add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon paprika and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the grated tomatoes with juices and the wine, stir to combine, and simmer, with the lid closed, until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens and darkens slightly, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and 1 teaspoon salt and stir to coat. Pour in the broth, stir to blend, and smooth the rice in an even layer in the pan. (Do not stir the rice after this point!) Arrange the chicken and chorizo over the rice and drizzle any accumulated juices from the bowls over the rice.
7. Cook the paella, with the lid closed, until about 3/4 of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is exposed, turning the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking, about 15 minutes.
8. Nestle the shrimp and mussels (hinge-side down) into the rice and continue to cook, with the lid closed, until the shrimp are cooked through, the mussels have opened, and the rice is making a crackling sound, 10 to 12 more minutes, turning the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.
9. Remove the paella pan from the grill and discard any unopened mussels. Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley over the paella and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve immediately.
Yes, you can grill all year. I often use my grill as my second oven and fire source for cooking meats, chicken, and fish, no matter the weather … well, usually. Sometimes, I admit that I can’t bear the thought of stepping out into frigid temperature or a downpour to quickly char-grill my dinner. So I turn to my oven broiler for (nearly) the same charred results. This is how I prepared these salmon skewers.
Whether you use your oven or the grill, this healthy meal is bright and satisfying. I use my go-to marinade for the salmon. With a balance of bright citrus, sweet chile heat, and piquant mustard, it hits all the flavor categories, and provides a welcome bite to cut through the buttery richness of the fish. The salad is another go-to favorite, where I massage the kale leaves – you’ve probably heard of this method by now. In case you haven’t, massaging the tough leaves helps to tenderize them, so that they are slightly softened, but not limp, while taming their earthy flavor. It’s really a must for kale salads, and can often be done well ahead of serving without the risk of wilting, thanks to the sturdiness of the kale leaves – and it’s a brilliant prep trick for salad.
You might wonder why I skewered the salmon, especially since there’s nothing else threaded on the skewers with the fish. I do this so that the salmon, which is cut into large chunks, has more surface area and corners, that are exposed to the grill. This ensures that there will be lots of crispy charred bits all over the salmon, which in my opinion is the best part of this recipe.
Grilled Salmon Skewers with Kale and Quinoa
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: about 30 minutes, plus marinating time
Serves: 4 to 5
Special equipment: Pre-soaked bamboo skewers
2 pounds salmon filet, skin and pin bones removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce, such as Sriracha
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 small bunch curly green kale
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped cauliflower florets
1/2 cup cooked quinoa, room temperature
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated or shaved
1 small red chile pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish
1. Place the salmon in a medium bowl. Whisk the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the salmon and stir to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Remove the tough ribs from the kale and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, the lemon juice, and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt. With your hands, toss and rub the leaves to thoroughly coat for about 1 minute. Let stand at room temperature.
3. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the vinegar, 1/4 teaspoons salt, and the black pepper in a small bowl.
4. Preheat the oven broiler.
5. Thread the salmon on the skewers and discard the marinade. Arrange the skewers on a grill pan and place on the top rack under the oven grill. Grill until cooked through and well marked in places, about 8 minutes, turning the skewers once.
6. While the skewers are grilling, assemble the salad. Add the cauliflower, quinoa, carrot, chile pepper, cilantro, and mint to the kale. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat.
7. To serve, spread the salad on a platter or individual serving plates. Top with the salmon skewers and garnish with additional mint.