I invented this recipe this past summer when I had a mint explosion in my backyard. Actually, mint is the only thing in my garden that I didn’t kill, and I had to figure out ways to use it because I started to feel bad that I wasn’t eating it.
Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain, and it’s a source of fiber, magnesium, and plant antioxidants called flavonoids. It’s gluten free, and it’s a complete protein, with 8g per cooked cup. It’s also really easy and fast to cook. It’s good both hot and cold, so I like to make this dish and eat it warm, then use the leftovers, cold, for lunches.
Quinoa tastes better when made with broth instead of water, so this is how I recommend you prepare it.
I use a combination of butter and olive oil when I fry the shrimp, because I feel that the butter lends a richness to the shrimp. Butter and olive oil is good combination for flavor but also for smokepoint, because olive oil has a far higher smokepoint than butter. When you mix them, the oil will keep the butter from smoking so quickly.
This is a great place to mention my love of kitchen shears. Everybody needs kitchen shears to snip herbs, quarter chicken, open packages, and do another 500 kitchen and non-kitchen tasks. They’re one of my must-haves and in this dish, I use them to quickly chop the mint.
Serves 4 as a main dish
225g (1/2 lb)uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1.5t olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
454g (1lb) shrimp, uncooked, peeled and deveined
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
100g (about ¼ pound) feta cheese
1 loosely packed cup of fresh mint, chopped
1T olive oil
1T balsamic vinegar
Cook the quinoa in the broth by bringing the broth to a boil in a small saucepan, adding the quinoa, and simmering on low heat for ~15 minutes. Set aside.
Place the butter, 1.5t olive oil, and garlic in a hot skillet. When the garlic is browned and fragrant, add the shrimp and cook until they’re pink. Do not over or undercook the shrimp. Overcooked shrimp are rubbery, and undercooked shrimp are just gross. Remember that fish and seafood keep cooking after they’re removed from the heat, so as soon as those shrimp turn pink, they’re done.
Add the shrimp and any liquid in the skillet to the quinoa – I do this right in the pot the quinoa was cooked in – along with the tomatoes and mint. Crumble the feta into the mixture, and mix to incorporate the ingredients.
Add the 1T olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the quinoa mixture and mix gently.
I love this dish fresh from the pot, when the feta melts slightly into the quinoa. Pack the rest away for lunch the next day.