Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wild Garlic and Grilled Shrimp

With all the beautiful weather around here the last couple of days, it's been hard to focus on anything but getting outside and enjoying ourselves. Fortunately, we've been able to shrug off some of our responsibilities and head out for lots of long walks to enjoy the mild temperatures and budding growth.

One of the best things about March in the Midwest is watching the world around you change from barren and brown to alive and green, sometimes overnight. I mean, two weeks ago I was donning 3 layers to get through my morning run without freezing to death, and now the happy faces of blooming daffodils greet me on my way back home! What a change!

Spring, of course, is also the time for inspiration and planning. While some friends are busy cultivating large gardens and awe-inspiring goals, I'm just happy with what I can find just off the sides of the trails. Have you heard of Wild Garlic?

Around here this little find is a certifiable weed. It plagues those who keep dairy cows, imparting a garlicky taste to the milk (something I would certainly not like!). The plant is also a nuisance to those who keep perfect lawns, as it's clumpy bunches grow faster than typical grass and spread like wildfire. But sometimes, weeds can be delicious!

As one of the first plants to show it's green growth in the Spring, wild garlic is fairly easy to find. I can remember munching on the leaves as a kid, mesmerized (even then!) with it's heady garlic/onion smell and sharp taste. Today, I find the plant valuable for the mild garlic taste it imparts to dishes with minimal work. Finding some great bunches of it while out on a walk, I plucked some leaves knowing I would want to make something with it.

Quickly investigating the freezer, I discovered a lost bag of shrimp calling out to me. Ten minutes later the shrimp were lounging in a marinade of wild garlic and lemon, patiently waiting their time with the grill. The smell was overpoweringly delicious!

Now I don't know how you grill (but you should tell me!), but when we do it, we typically put our food on aluminum foil to save mess. However, after thinking about it this recipe would make a great skewered shrimp kabob. The fresh taste of the wild garlic and lemon couple incredibly well with the light and smoky taste of grilled shrimp. If you live in a place where wild garlic grows free (the eastern and central States), you have to give this little weed a chance.

Gosh, I'm so sad we don't have any leftovers!

Grilled Shrimp with Wild Garlic
Serves 2

What You'll Need:

A grill

Aluminum foil
1 medium sized bowl
1 medium pot, for pasta

20 raw medium shrimp (we buy frozen)

2 generous handfuls broccoli, chopped

2 generous handfuls cauliflower, chopped
1 Jalapeno, chopped
1/4 pound whole-wheat spaghetti (angel hair would be great)

1 generous handful fresh wild garlic leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp red pepper flakes

10-15 leaves fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Sea Salt / Pepper to taste

What You'll Do:

1. Thaw your shrimp in a colander by running cool water over them. Toss regularly to ensure even thawing.

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine wild garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Add shrimp to mix and toss to coat with marinade. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

3. Cover your grill in aluminum foil to create a surface for your shrimp and vegetables. Alternatively, you could use a skewer to create kabobs. Warm your grill so that it gives off a medium heat.

4. When shrimp is done marinading, remove from marinade and place on grill. Add your broccoli, cauliflower and jalapenos to the grill and toss with shrimp. Drizzle both vegetables and shrimp with leftover marinade.

5. On the stove top, cook your spaghetti according to package instructions. Make sure to heavily salt your water, which gives a better flavor to pasta. Drain and set aside.

6. Cook over a medium heat until shrimp is pink and cooked through and vegetables are barely tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.

7. Toss your cooked vegetables and shrimp with pasta and serve. Garnish with parsley and salt/pepper to taste.

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