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Recipe: Tequila-lime shrimp with summer vegetables

The wonderful thing about this time of year is that there really isn’t a lot of cooking to do. Beautiful fruits and vegetables abound at the market, and the produce is bursting with such flavor that none of it requires much dressing up to make a satisfying dinner.

My friend Lesley over at Five O’Clock Food recently put up a recipe with a tequila, lime and cilantro sauce, and it got me thinking that I wanted to try something similar, perhaps with a marinade. Citrus and cilantro are the perfect accompaniment to summertime vegetables and lighter meats like chicken or seafood, and if I had an outdoor grill and a well landscaped backyard, you can bet I’d be out there enjoying meals like this every night.

Actually, I’d need one other ingredient to make that scenario happen: warm weather! While the rest of the country is melting, the hottest it got in SF last week was probably 65. Hmph.

For this recipe, I choose to marinate an assortment of colorful veggies (yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, red and orange peppers, and red onions) and shrimp in a mixture of chopped cilantro, lime juice, tequila, garlic and more. I skewered all the veggies together, then all the shrimp (which I also peeled and deveined), and let everything sit in the marinade for an hour or so. While things were working in the fridge, I made a fresh tomato salsa and a little side of black bean soup to serve along with the skewers.

If you’re bored with your usual weeknight fare, give skewers a chance! The choices of what to put on them are endless, and if you cut everything to an appropriate size, they cook very quickly, making them a fast dinner option.

Tequila, lime and cilantro shrimp and vegetable skewers

Serves 2-3 people

For the skewers:

  • 3/4 lb 26-30ct shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • whatever fresh vegetables you want!

For the marinade:

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped (the other half I diced finely and put in my fresh tomato salsa!)
  • 2 tbsp blanco (silver) tequila
  • 2-3 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • –salt and pepper to season

Cut the vegetables to approximately the same size. In cutting them, be sure that some pieces aren’t a lot smaller than others, because you want everything to touch the grill and cook evenly. Thread the vegetables onto wooden or metal skewers, in whatever order you want. Skewer the shrimp as well, on separate ones. Keeping the meat skewers separate from the veggie ones ensure that the meat will all cook at the same pace. Place the skewers on a sheet pan and set aside.

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Pulse it several times, then scrape down the sides to help incorporate any stray cilantro leaves. Pulse again until the mixture is chunky but easily pourable.

Pour the mixture over the skewers, then use your hands to turn the skewers and make sure all the ingredients are evenly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for as much time as you have, but probably no more than an hour or so (the citrus will begin to cook the shrimp, ceviche style!).

When you’re ready, heat an indoor grill pan over medium high, and oil well with canola or vegetable oil. Begin cooking the vegetable skewers first — they’ll take way longer than the shrimp. Continue turning the skewers to cook the vegetables on all sides, and allow them to get as charred as you like. Remove the veggies to a serving plate; you can even take them off the skewers for easier service.

With the grill pan still hot, cook the shrimp skewers, turning regularly until the shrimp are cooked through and beginning to brown.

Serve with fresh tomato salsa, or whatever side you like.

If you don’t like shrimp, you could easily try this recipe with cubes of a thick, meaty fish like swordfish or even salmon. It’d also work well with chicken. The citrus is also easily interchangeable — I bet this would taste great with an orange juice-tequila marinade!

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