Lent is a time to lighten the load, to give cares and prayers to God and to recuperate from the heavy foods of the holidays and Mardi Gras madness.
Coastians are blessed to have an abundance of fresh seafood that works so well with lighter meals.
From shrimp and pasta to shrimp tacos to fish dishes, Coast seafood markets and supermarkets have the freshest choices. It’s great to pop down to the market and purchase the latest catch.
Seafood dishes are quick to prepare and work well for working parents who do not have time or do not want to take time in the kitchen. A favorite is shrimp with pasta and fresh asparagus. It is a healthy dish that boasts plenty of flavor.
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Ethnic dishes also offer an opportunity to work in some lighter seafood dishes, such as Greek shrimp. This is a spicy shrimp and tomato dish that is great served with orzo and a tossed salad.
Chinese New Year, which began Sunday, brings with it some flavorful fresh seafood dishes that won’t expand the waistline. This celebration will continue until the Spring Lantern Festival on March 2, but some celebrate the new year for several months, allowing time to visit with family and friends. I’ll share a favorite pad Thai with shrimp that is another quick fix.
Now is the time to lighten up. Spring is around the corner, and can swimsuit weather be far behind?
Instant Pot a favorite
“I have had my 6-quart Instant Pot for a few years now and wouldn’t want to be without it,” said Lynne Murray of Bradenton, Florida. “We eat a plant-based diet, and it is great for cooking soups, stews, vegetables, beans, rice, oat groats, you name it.
“I tried making soy yogurt in it, and it came out fine, but since I have a yogurt maker I really like, I use that,” Murray said.
OK, readers, how about sharing your experiences with the Instant Pot and sending along a few recipes? Simply e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another new hot appliance is the air fryer. Does anyone have one of these? Share your opinion and recipes, please.
These are both great, time-saving and calorie-saving ways to prepare meals. They are more than interesting gadgets; they are approaching essential kitchen appliances status.
Several weeks ago, Brenda Roberts asked for butternut squash recipes that are low in fat. I will share a 20-minute one with honey and balsamic vinegar that uses frozen squash.
Beets are not forgotten
Coming next week — honestly — beet recipes. Has anyone tried the beet powder that makes a drink that is taken twice a day? Inquiring minds want to know.
Andrea Yeager can be reached at email@example.com and Cooks Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.
GARLIC SHRIMP AND ASPARAGUS PASTA
1 package uncooked thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 pound fresh, peeled, deveined shrimp
1 bunch trimmed asparagus
Cook spaghetti noodles according to instructions on the package and drain. While pasta is cooking, chop asparagus into small bite-size pieces.
Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add in the wine, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, parsley flakes, asparagus and salt and pepper. Keep heat low for 5 minutes, allowing sauce to simmer. Stir frequently.
Turn up heat to medium and add shrimp to sauce. Cook for 4 minutes, being careful to not overcook.
Combine pasta and sauce mixture in a bowl and serve. Add additional Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes, if desired.
From Chefs at Save-A-Lot
GREEK STYLE SHRIMP
2 pounds medium-size shrimp, rinsed, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion coarsely chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed
2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
14-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes (crushed creates a thicker sauce)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano
1/2 to 3/4 pound crumbled feta cheese
Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with lemon juice; set aside
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauce for 3 minutes.
Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, ground pepper, wine, oregano, parsley and 1/2 cup water and mix well. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 to 30 minutes. Add more water if needed to thin sauce.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a baking dish and place some sauce on the bottom. Place shrimp in the dish, cover with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with feta cheese.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until shrimp are done and feta starts to melt.
Serve over orzo.
PAD THAI WITH SHRIMP
4 cups water
1 package (6 to 8 ounces) linguine-style stir-fry rice noodles (rice stick noodle)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons packaged brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten
12 ounces fresh cooked, peeled, deveined medium shrimp, thawed
1/4 cup finely chopped dry roasted peanuts
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
4 medium green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup firmly packed cilantro leaves
In 3-quart saucepan, heat 4 cups water to boiling. Remove from heat; add noodles (cover completely with water if necessary) Soak noodles 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir lime juice, 1/3 cup water, the brown sugar, fish sauce tablespoon of the oil until well mixed; set aside
In nonstick wok or 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to saute shallot in oil about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until starting to brown. Add eggs, stirring constantly, until scrambled but still moist.
Stir in noodles and lime juice mixture. Increase heat to high. Cook about 1 minute until sauce begins to thicken. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro. Cook 2 to 3 until noodles are tender. Place on serving platter. Sprinkle cilantro. Garnish with peanuts and green onions if desired.
From Betty Crocker Cookbook