Here’s a quick take on shrimp that makes a perfect pairing with summer vegetables. Once the ingredients are prepped, the dish cooks in less than 10 minutes. The advantage of quick cooking here is the browning and flavor that take place when protein meets high heat. Don’t be afraid to crank the heat up to full blast. The high heat browns the shrimp, caramelizes the vegetables, and evaporates the juices, concentrating all the flavors. Georgia white shrimp are my hands-down favorite here. Georgia doesn’t have a truckload of seafood that trumps everyone else’s in the United States. But our shrimp does. They’re sweeter and firmer than common brown Gulf shrimp (which you could use in a pinch). They’re so sweet that I add a big squeeze of lemon juice to balance their sweetness with some acidity. For the vegetables, use any summer vegetables you like, but make sure you have some ripe tomatoes in there. They release just enough juice at the last minute to create a light sauce.
Enough for four folks
Grapeseed oil – about 1 tablespoon
Shrimp, preferably Georgia white – 24 large (U30), peeled and deveined, about 1 pound
Salt – about 2 teaspoons
Green beans – 8 ounces, ends trimmed and halved on the diagonal
Yellow squash – 1, ends trimmed and cut into ¼-inch dice, about 1 cup
Padrón chile peppers – 2, seeds and ribs removed and thinly sliced, about 1/3 cup
Garlic – 1 clove, thinly sliced
Smoked paprika – 1/4 teaspoon
Tomato 1, core and seeds removed and cut into 1/2-inch dice, about 1 cup
Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
Fresh Thai basil – 3 tablespoons cut into chiffonade (thin strips) + additional sprigs for
Finishing-quality olive oil
1. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over high heat until smokin’ hot. Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and swirl to coat. Pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with the salt. Stand back, then add the shrimp in a single layer in the pan and sear until they are caramelized and slightly curled up, about 1 minute. The pan should ignite for a split second when you add the shrimp; this is a critical step to getting a lightly caramelized flavor on the shrimp. Once they start to curl, flip the shrimp and cook until just bright pink all over, another 30 seconds; transfer to a plate.
2. Add a little more oil to the pan—again, just enough oil to cover the bottom. Add the green beans, and cook and toss for 2 minutes. Add the squash and cook, using the washing machine method (see page 12), for 1 minute. Add the peppers and garlic and continue shaking the pan and stirring for another 30 seconds. Stir in the smoked paprika, tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and pull the pan from the heat. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan and toss to combine. Add the basil and toss again; the heat from the vegetables will release the pungent aromas and flavors of the basil.
3. Arrange 6 shrimp on each serving plate and spoon the vegetables over the top. Make sure some of the shrimp are poking out from under the vegetables. Garnish with a generous amount of finishing oil and a fresh sprig of basil.
Thai Basil is Spicier – I like Thai basil in this dish for a couple of reasons. It has a more pronounced licorice flavor than regular sweet basil, and it stands up better to heat. Generally, Thai basil has a more pungent aroma than sweet basil, and it’s a flavor I really love with these shrimp.
Peppers from Padrón, Spain – Some Padrón chile peppers are blazing hot and some are very mild. You never know what you’re going to get. Either way, they all have a superthin skin, so you don’t really need to remove the skin like you sometimes do from a bell pepper. If you can’t find Padrón peppers in your market, banana peppers are an okay substitute. If you use them, just make sure to throw in a pinch of dried cayenne pepper for heat.