I should probably call this post “The Little Recipe That Could”. It’s a story about an old recipe of mine that has gone through so much just to get here, that I can’t help but hold it near and dear to my heart as one of my favorites.
My original intent was to share a new shrimp recipe with all of you today. I was down to the last handful of frozen shrimp that I’d scored on sale at Target about a month ago, and had a nice, simple recipe all ready to be prepped, photographed and posted. For some reason, though, I had this nagging feeling that I should let that one slide for a couple of weeks and see what else there was to make. Not that I disliked the new recipe – I’m just always thinking, thinking, thinking about new recipes all the livelong day (it’s a food blogger affliction; I never used to be this way!).
So I poked around in the fridge and found my inspiration: I had everything I needed – including cooked quinoa, so I didn’t even have to worry about that part – to make That One Little Quinoa, Shrimp and Spinach Thingie I Posted A Few Years Ago for a Photo Makeover post.
Yes, that’s right. This recipe is so old and so forgotten, that I couldn’t recall its proper title. Not a problem, thought I. All I had to do was look through my handy category pages, where everything is now so neatly laid out and displayed for me so that I can find my own damned recipes when I want to make something (reason #34627519 why Poor Girl needs to get this book written – so I can find my stuff), find the corresponding link, and voila! Instant recipe.
Not so! It was nowhere to be found in the Quinoa section. So I checked under Seafood; nothing. Salads? Nada. Under the “spinach” label, perhaps? RIEN! What the…..? Where the heck did that recipe go?
Turns out it was one of the few that didn’t survive the transition to the new site. That’s not hard to imagine, considering there are well over 400 posts to sift through, categorize, etc. But I was freaking out because all of a sudden, I needed that recipe! I knew the basic ingredients, but I didn’t know if there was something I’d missed and didn’t want to do the recipe any injustice. I needed some guidelines! Some rules! Anything! All of a sudden, I, Kimberly A. Morales, graduate of the School of Cooking With Dashes, Pinches, and Glugs, needed a list of ingredients and measurements for a savory dish of my own making. *gasp*
Fortunately, I’m a bit of a packrat, both in real life and online, so I was able to find the original recipe. And I’m SO glad I did, because the poor thing truly needed an overhaul in all departments.
I first posted this back on New Year’s Day of 2009. PGEW was still quite new, but I’d gathered enough of a following by then to have people bother to look forward to my posts, and I wanted to share something special with for the new year. As the original post had mentioned, I posted two quinoa recipes that day. One was my Warm Breakfast Quinoa with Cinnamon Apples & Almonds, a deliciously sinful breakfast that, thank goodness, can at least claim some nutritional value because of the quinoa. The other was the first version of this recipe.
The poor thing was a mess. The picture was foul, the title was all over the place, and the recipe itself – eek! It was like revisiting writings from my youth; one could almost taste the “new recipe writer” with every new sentence of that post.
But I remember the dish being quite good, the kind of thing that had stuck in my mind as one of those ridiculously simple recipes that just worked for me. Like that chicken farfalle recipe so many of you love so much – nothing exciting, but the end result is always a winner. A large part of why these recipes work is because of their simplicity, and that’s why I wanted to share it with you today. I’ve said it a million times already, but here it is again:
Basic ingredients + a little imagination + a dash of self-confidence = really good food. Plain and simple.
So I got to cooking. And as I cooked, I tweaked. Some ingredient amounts needed to be increased, others needed to be omitted altogether. I cleaned up the method section. I even gave it a new name. Because as much as I like telling you what’s in my dishes in the title, there’s no need to list almost every. single. element (which is what Novice PGEW had done. It’s okay; she didn’t know any better).
Then there was the photo shoot fiasco. I won’t go too far into the details because I’m still a little wobbly at the knees thinking of what could have happened to poor Fred the Fuji FinePix, but let’s just say that I almost ended up with no pictures for this post. I started too late because my errands ran a bit longer than expected, my camera tried to commit suicide, and it was closing in on magic hour, so I didn’t have much time to take pictures. It was tough, but I was able to get a couple decent photos out of the lot, and I’m happy to report they are light years away from what you would have been subjected to in the original post.
It’s been a very fun, very random exercise and I’m glad it turned out the way it did. It’s nice seeing how far I’ve come as a writer, amateur photographer and recipe developer over the past 3.5 years; heck, even my palate is far more developed than it used to be, and I’ve always been one of those crazy super tasters. But it was pretty good even back in ’09. ”The ingredients are simple, as is the recipe,” I wrote in the original post. “But the flavors are sweet and fresh. It’s a healthy meal with just a tiny bit of sass, the sweetness of the shrimp accented by the sharpness of the wine sauce and feta, the coolness of the spinach lending balance to the dish. This is great for either lunch or dinner, and is sure to become a favorite, as it’s swiftly become a favorite of mine.”
And after all it’s gone through, it’s definitely earned a permanent place in my personal recipe book. : )
Warm Shrimp, Spinach & Quinoa (makes 2 servings; total cost per serving: $3.75)
I usually prepare this with frozen, cooked shrimp, which is how I’ve written the recipe. However, it’s even more delicious if you cook fresh ones yourself! Just toss them in with the sauce in Step One, cook until pink, and you’re good to go. – K.A.M.
15-20 medium shrimp (frozen is just fine)
1 T butter
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/3 c white wine (Chardonnay, Sauvingon Blanc, Chablis… it will all work well)
Juice of one lemon
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 c cooked quinoa
2 scallions, chopped
1-2 c baby spinach
1 oz crumbled feta (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a medium skillet and add the garlic. Cook until just fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the wine, garlic salt, and pepper, and cook until the wine has reduced slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked shrimp and saute gently until just heated through. Remove from heat.
2. Add the cooked quinoa and gently toss with the shrimp and sauce. Arrange the baby spinach on plates or in large salad bowls. Spoon generous amounts of the shrimp and quinoa mixture onto the spinach, sprinkle with chopped scallions and crumbled feta cheese, and enjoy!