Dang, it’s been a red hot minute since I last posted a quinoa recipe up in here. Whaddya say we change that with Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa?!
Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa is one of the dishes I was contemplating making for my KCCI Labor Day segment last Friday. It’s fresh, relatively fast, and really summery feeling. I mean just look at it!
Picking out a fab dish is one of the things I worry most about regarding my monthly segments on KCCI, btw. Well that and visibly sweating on air, but mostly choosing a great recipe that will appeal to a lot of people.
My inability to narrow a menu down generally leads to a shouty JUST PICK ONE! text or email from my family, who I relentlessly bug about a week beforehand, asking them to choose between 8 different recipes I’m contemplating.
It’s just that, the people who watch the 6am news aren’t necessarily the same people who regularly read my blog, so I feel like I have to make something that will appeal to lots of people, possibly dazzling and convincing them to come visit IGE in the process!
Anyways, Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa was deemed not as friendly for the masses as Key West Grilled Chicken Sandwiches, the dish I ended up making on air, but I knew you, dear readers, would appreciate the sauteed, jerk-spiced shrimp nestled in a scoop of fluffy quinoa studded with the fresh and tropical flavors of pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes, and strawberries – right?
Start the Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa by combining 1 cup dry quinoa that’s been rinsed VERY VERY WELL under running water to remove a naturally occurring bitter outer coating, with 1-1/4 cups chicken broth in a pot. Bring to a boil, place a lid on top, turn heat to low, then cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. When its cooked, spread the quinoa out onto a large plate to cool.
Sorry, my camera ate my quinoa pictures. I don’t blame it.
Next, get the Jerk seasoning blend ready for the shrimp. You could totally use a store-bought jerk blend if you want, but I literally have 4 zillion spice bottles in my cupboard and jump at any chance I get to use some up! First combine 1 Tablespoon each sugar and paprika, with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Then add 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes. This gives the shrimp some KICK!
Finally throw in 1/8 teaspoon allspice. One of the things Ben and I loved about the jerk chicken we had in Jamaica was the hint of warm cinnamon and clove in the spice rub, which is kind of what allspice tastes like. It’s really good!
Mix ‘er on up!
Sprinkle the seasoning blend onto some peeled & de-veined shrimp, along with a little olive oil, then toss to coat the shrimp evenly in the spices.
Cook in a hot skillet for 1-2 minutes a side, breathe in the intoxicating aroma of sizzling Caribbean spices, then pop ‘em onto a plate and set aside.
Next assemble the Caribbean Quinoa, named for the copious amounts of sweet, tropical fruits in it! Combine 1/2 cup each chopped strawberries, mandarin oranges, green grapes and pineapple in a large bowl.
I used canned pineapple tidbits packed in 100% pineapple juice btw, and reserved some of the juice to use in the vinaigrette that ties the whole dish together.
Next add in 1 chopped green onion and 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro.
Finally, whip up the aforementioned vinaigrette. Just combine 3 Tablespoons each reserved pineapple juice, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil in a jar or bowl.
Shake or whisk to combine then add the cooled quinoa on top of the fruit, and the vinaigrette on top of that.
Toss everything to combine, season with a bit more salt & pepper, then you are ready to dine!
To quote my hero Ina Garten – “How bad can that be?”
Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa
Adapted from Cooking Light
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed very well under cold water
1-1/4 cups chicken broth
1-1/2lbs peeled & de-veined shrimp
1 recipe Jerk seasoning blend (or 2-1/2 Tablespoons store-bought)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup each chopped strawberries, mandarin oranges, green grapes, and canned pineapple tidbits packed in natural juices (drained and juices reserved)
1 green onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
For the Caribbean Vinaigrette:
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons reserved pineapple juice
salt & pepper
1. Rinse quinoa very well under running water, then combine with chicken broth in a pot. Bring to a boil then place a lid on top, turn heat to low, and simmer until broth has been absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. Spread quinoa out onto a big plate to cool.
2. Meanwhile, pat shrimp dry with paper towels then place in a large bowl. Add olive oil and jerk seasoning blend, then toss to coat. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, spray with non-stick spray, then cook shrimp for 1-2 minutes a side, or until cooked all the way through. May need to work in batches. Set shrimp aside.
3. Combine Caribbean Vinaigrette ingredients in a jar or bowl, then shake or whisk to combine. Place chopped fruit, green onions, and cilantro in a large bowl then add cooled quinoa and dressing. Stir well then taste and add more salt & pepper, if necessary. Spoon quinoa onto plates and top with cooked shrimp.
Gahhh, I could eat about 5,000 of these shrimp! I was able to taste each individual spice, and especially loved the flavors of garlic, allspice and red chili pepper flakes. Can’t get over that gorgeous orange hue from the paprika, either.
The spice level was toned down a bit by the chopped fruit studding the quinoa. There’s nothing like a bite of heat, followed by a burst of juicy sweet. So yum!
While it may not be universally loved by the masses, hopefully a few of you out there will dig Jerk Shrimp with Caribbean Quinoa!