Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Rigatoni with Shrimp, Calamari, and Basil

October 25, 2010
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While I detox from my sister’s gluttonous wedding weekend and ponder tasty diet dinners, I want to share this recipe from the wayback machine.  I made this pasta dish a month or two ago, and it really hit the spot – it was hearty and satisfying, but the seafood and veggies kept it tasting fresh and light (well, light-er).

When I made this dish, I could not find calamari ANYWHERE (I can usually get it at a small local market, but they were all out when I visited), so I just doubled the shrimp.  And speaking of shrimp, my only issue with this recipe was the processing/blending of half of the seafood.  I don’t really understand the point – I mean, it certainly imparts great shrimpy flavor, but why can’t you just leave the little guys whole?  I will definitely omit that step next time – though, maybe the calamari would make the difference?

Oh, and anyone who poo-poos the idea of cheese and seafood together?  Well, let’s just say those people are no friends of mine.

  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, divided
  • 14 ounces cleaned calamari (bodies only; tentacles reserved for another use), divided
  • 12 ounces rigatoni pasta
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

Place half of shrimp in medium bowl. Slice half of calamari crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide rings and place in small bowl.

Coarsely chop remaining shrimp and calamari; place in processor. Using on/off turns, blend until shrimp mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to another medium bowl.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 5 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, garlic, and crushed red pepper; sauté until leeks are tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped shrimp mixture; stir until shrimp and calamari are just opaque, about 2 minutes. Add clam juice and peas; simmer until flavors blend, about 3 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside; cover to keep warm.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved whole shrimp and sauté 2 minutes. Add calamari rings to shrimp; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until just opaque, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta; return to same pot. Add chopped shrimp and calamari sauce, 1/2 cup cheese, and 1/2 cup basil and toss to blend.

Divide pasta among 4 bowls. Top each serving with sautéed shrimp mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil. Pass additional cheese separately and serve.

Recipe: Seared Scallops with Farmers’ Market Salad

October 21, 2010
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Now that we are nearing the end of October, it seems a little silly to post a summery recipe like this one.  However, this dish was so fresh and tasty and simple, and it’s not the recipe’s fault that I’ve been behind on my blogging.  So, keep this one in the vaults for next summer!

There’s really not much to this meal besides good quality ingredients prepared simply – which, to me, is what summer is all about.  The briny scallops, the acidic tomatoes, and the sweet corn all play together nicely for a satisfying and healthy hot-weather dinner.  Again, no photo, so apologies – sometimes I am just so gung-ho about eating my creations that the camera doesn’t even come out.

  • 2  cups  chopped tomato (about 1 pound)
  • 1  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  canola oil
  • 1 1/2  pounds  sea scallops
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)

Combine tomato, basil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; toss gently. Heat a large cast-iron or heavy skillet over high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add scallops to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Turn scallops; cook 2 minutes or until done. Remove scallops from pan; keep warm. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add corn to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Add to tomato mixture; toss gently. Serve salad with scallops.

Recipe: Chipotle-Rubbed Salmon Tacos

June 28, 2010

Now that I have a tortilla press (actually, I have two – the first one turned out to be a little too small for flour tortillas, so we ordered the next size up), I am always looking for new, yummy taco recipes.  This one had been calling out to me for a while, since it involved heart-healthy salmon and a decent amount of fruits and veggies.

This dish would be great even with store-bought tortillas.  The flavors and textures are awesome – you get spice, you get citrus, you get creamy, you get crunchy.  There is a fair amount of chopping involved, so prep takes a little bit of time, but the end result is definitely worth it.  Try this on your next taco night!

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 pound skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 tortillas
  • Salt
  • 1 Hass avocado, mashed
  • Apple-Cucumber Salsa (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lime juice. In another small bowl, combine the chipotle powder with the orange zest and sugar. Rub each piece of salmon with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and then with the chipotle–orange zest mixture. Let stand for 5 minutes.

    Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until they are softened and heated through.

    Meanwhile, heat a grill pan. Season the salmon with salt and grill over high heat until nicely browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

    Gently break each piece of salmon in half. Spread the mashed avocado on the warm tortillas and top with the salmon, Apple-Cucumber Salsa and the cabbage. Drizzle each taco with the lime mayonnaise and serve right away.

    For the apple-cucumber salsa, combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 1 Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cucumber—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt to taste

  • Recipe: Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Cilantro-Lime Mayo

    June 2, 2010

    I am always looking for new and interesting ways to get fish into my husband’s diet.  He doesn’t like whole fish, or even skin-on filets – basically, he doesn’t want any reminders that the fish was once alive.  With few exceptions, the better disguised the fish is, the more he enjoys the dish.

    These salmon cakes aren’t as healthy as steamed fish, of course, but they sure are tasty.  I used light mayo and sour cream to better manage the calories and fat, and no one noticed a difference.  The cakes were so moist and flavorful, with a nice crust on the outside from a quick pan-fry.  You could probably substitute another oily fish if salmon isn’t your thing or isn’t available, but I think it worked really well.  This is a delicious way to get those omega-3 fatty acids!

    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon grated zest and 4 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
    • 1 pound skinless salmon filet, chopped fine
    • 1 4-ounce can whole green chiles, drained and chopped fine
    • 2 scallions, sliced thin
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

    Whisk mayo, sour cream, lime zest, line juice, and cilantro in small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

    Place 3/4 cup panko in shallow dish.  Combine salmon, chiles, scallions, 3 tablespoons mayo mixture, remaining panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl.  Form salmon mixture into four 3 1/2 inch patties.  Dredge patties in panko, pressing to adhere.

    Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add patties to skillet and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Serve with remaining mayo mixture.

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    Recipe: Shrimp, Pink Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad

    March 24, 2010

    I was pretty excited to post about this salad, but then on Monday night in Salt Lake City, I had the best salad of recent memory (at Bambara, recently voted the best restaurant and best chef of SLC).  It was a roasted beet salad, which isn’t really noteworthy on its own – I mean, come on, everyone and their brother has a beet salad on the menu these days – but the dish was striking in that each and every element was perfectly executed.  The red and yellow beets were impeccably roasted, the goat cheese was beyond creamy and decadent, the greens were fresh, the blood orange vinaigrette was really nicely seasoned (and the salad wasn’t dripping with it), the orange supremes were a delicious citrusy touch, and the toasted hazelnuts on top delivered a much-appreciated crunch and nuttiness.  The salad was also beautifully plated, which I’ve come to appreciate even more after attending a recent food styling workshop.  Anyway, it was quite impressive, especially since I don’t normally get excited about restaurant salads.

    Back to MY salad…I made this a couple of weeks ago, when I saw avocados on sale and was determined to find a way to use them.  The dish isn’t a culinary inspiration like my salad at Bambara, but it’s a satisfying and healthy meal (and definitely substantial enough to serve as a main-course dinner, as it did for me).  The crunch of the hearts of palm balances out the soft avocados and grapefruit, and the flavors are nice and balanced (though my hubs said he wanted some sort of spicy element in the dish).  It’s easy to make and tasty to eat, so give it a go!

    • 1 pink grapefruit
    • 1 teaspoon grated zest and 1 tablespoon juice from 1 orange
    • 2 shallots, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, rinsed, and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, skinned, and sliced thin
    • 2 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated

    Cut ends from grapefruit.  Slice off rind and white pith by cutting from top to bottom of fruit.  Holding grapefruit over bowl to catch juices, cut between membrane and pulp of each segment.  Set aside segments and transfer 3 tablespoons juice to large bowl.

    Add orange zest, orange juice, shallots, and cumin to large bowl with grapefruit juice.  Slowly whisk in oil until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.

    Season shrimp with salt and pepper and saute in olive oil over medium high heat.  They cook quickly, so pay attention!

    Add shrimp, hearts of palm, avocado, grapefruit sections, and lettuce to bowl with dressing and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Arrange salad on individual plates and top with remaining ingredients.

    Recipe: Crispy Fish Fingers

    February 3, 2010

    As you can probably tell, many of my recent meal ideas have come from lazy Saturday mornings in front of the boob tube.  A couple of weekends ago, we were watching the Food Network, and we got sucked into an episode of Ellie Krieger’s “Healthy Appetite” show.  She was making a slimmed down version of fish sticks, which happen to be one of Jason’s favorite foods (the shame, I know).  He was intrigued.

    Since I am the best wifey ever, I attempted the dish that very night.  The verdict?  Jason the fish stick lover, naturally, loved this meal.  On the other hand, I wasn’t the biggest fan.  I found the wheat breadcrumbs to be heavy and dry, and they were a gigantic pain in the tush to make.  Frankly, I find it hard to believe that regular, store-bought breadcrumbs are SO bad for you that you have to swap them out for this lesser version.

    The sauce was quite tasty, and I liked it about a zillion times better than a traditional tartar sauce.  However, with all of the steps involved in this dish, the sauce just wasn’t enough to justify making it again.  From now on, I think I’ll just stick to one of my tried-and-true fish recipes…and frozen fish sticks for Jason.

    • 4 slices whole-wheat bread (1-ounce each)
    • Cooking spray
    • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 pound flounder fillets
    • 2 eggs, beaten to mix
    • 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
    • Pinch cayenne pepper, optional

    Put the bread in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until bread crumbs form. Toast the crumbs in a large, dry nonstick skillet over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the crumbs with a spoon if they begin to stick together, until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes (note: for me, this took MUCH longer, and the crumbs never really got crisp or golden). Remove from heat.

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. On a plate, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Cut the fillets into 4 by 1-inch strips. A few pieces at a time, dip the fish into the flour mixture, dusting off the excess. Dip the fish in the egg and then the bread crumbs. Arrange on the baking sheet and continue until all of the fish is breaded. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chives and cayenne, if using. Season, to taste, with freshly ground black pepper.

    Recipe: Horseradish-Crusted Salmon with Cucumber Salad

    January 14, 2010
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    I have a love-hate relationship with salmon.  I love that it is affordable, healthy, and fairly quick and easy to prepare.  I hate that, perhaps due to its ubiquitous nature, salmon doesn’t always cry out for new and interesting preparations.  Therefore, I tend to get bored with it fairly quickly and end up eschewing it in favor of more unique (and expensive) seafood options.

    This recipe is a great way to zing up your salmon.  I’m not normally a huge horseradish fan, but it is mellowed by the sour cream and gives the fish a subtle kick.  We normally have arguments in our house about how “done” the salmon should be (dad and husband prefer the fish cooked more, while mom and I lean toward medium rare), but the coating protects the fish and allows for high heat cooking (which crisps and browns the breadcrumb mixture) without drying out the flesh.  The result was tasty, flaky-firm salmon and a creamy-yet-refreshing cucumber salad.  The dish was also successful served cold the next day for lunch.

    • 2/3 cup sour cream
    • ¼ cup non-creamy horseradish
    • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • Salt and pepper
    • 3 slices white sandwich bread
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 4 salmon filets, each 6-8 ounces and uniform thickness
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
    • 3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin

    Adjust oven rack to upper-middle portion and heat to 450 degrees.  Combine 3 tablespoons sour cream, 3 tablespoons horseradish, mustard, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl.

    Pulse bread, butter, and remaining horseradish in food processor until coarsely ground.  Pat salmon dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Brush top of salmon with sour cream mixture.  Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over salmon, pressing to adhere.

    Bake salmon on rimmed baking sheet until crumbs are golden and edges of fish flake when gently pressed, about 15-20 minutes (depending on thickness).

    Meanwhile, whisk remaining sour cream, dill, and lemon juice in large bowl.  Add cucumbers and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper. 


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    Recipe: Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Orange-Miso Sauce

    December 28, 2009
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    Okay, one more cocktail party recipe before we wrap up 2009 here at TWT…

    This dish started out being troublesome.  First off, my husband had to drive halfway across the state to find miso paste, despite the fact that we live in an area that has probably the highest Asian population in metro Atlanta (I would have substituted something if I knew what would work – any ideas, as a side note?).  Second, while I thought I already had ginger in the house, I realized only AFTER returning from shopping that it was no longer fresh.  Grrrr…

    I made the orange miso sauce ahead of time and put it in the fridge.  However, I basically forgot about this dish until a few hours into the party, until I went into the chill chest to open a new bottle of white wine.  I stared at the salmon, torn over whether to present another appetizer or simply save the fish for a weeknight dinner.

    “So…what are you going to make with that?” asked one of my guests.

    “Eh, I was going to make a sesame salmon dish, but I’m not sure it’s even worth it at this point,” I replied.  “It looks like folks are slowing down, and that maybe we don’t need any more food.”  She stared at me incredulously, then narrowed her eyes and focused in on me.

    “Seriously, what do I have to do to get you to make that fish???”

    I laughed out loud – that was all I needed to hear.  I quickly prepped and cooked the salmon, and I arranged the skewered pieces on a platter with the sauce.  As it turns out, I am incredibly glad that I served this salmon.  It was light, tasty, easy to throw together, and a complete and utter hit.  I thought the fish was so flavorful on its own that it didn’t even need the sauce, but I was definitely in the minority there – people were grabbing stray bread and crackers just to sop up the nutty, citrusy goodness.

    Moms, if you need a way to coax your kids to eat fish, this might just be the ticket.

    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
    • 1 tablespoon yellow miso (fermented soybean paste)*
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
    • 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 48 pieces)
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 5 tablespoons sesame seeds (white and/or black)

    Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend well. Season orange-miso sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

    Line large baking sheet with foil. Place salmon and vegetable oil in large bowl; toss to coat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place sesame seeds on small plate. Coat 1 surface of each salmon piece with sesame seeds. Arrange salmon, sesame-coated side up, in single layer on prepared baking sheet.

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake salmon uncovered until just cooked through, about 5 minutes; transfer to platter. Skewer each piece with toothpick. Serve warm, passing orange-miso sauce.

    Recipe: Seafood Gumbo with Okra

    September 23, 2009

    As some of you know, my husband recently hung out a shingle and started practicing law as a solo attorney.  Mostly (at least for now) he does indigent criminal defense work, but occasionally he gets retained clients and gets to dabble in other things.  Recently, he helped some folks with a commercial lease agreement, and in addition to paying a retainer, the clients gave him some fresh okra from their garden as a token of their appreciation.  Since we are still trying to eat healthy, fried okra was out of the question.  What’s the next best way to use the little green pods?  Gumbo, of course!

    The recipe inspiration came from Tyler Florence, but I mucked with it significantly.  First of all, I was WAY too lazy to make shrimp stock, and I couldn’t find any kind of seafood stock in my local megamarts.  So, for the base of the soup, I used vegetable stock seasoned and simmered with some Old Bay, lemon, onion, and bay leaves.  Second, the recipe called for shrimp and oysters, but the latter were impossible to find at a price I was willing to pay.  So, I found a frozen seafood mix that worked fairly well.

    The end result was actually really tasty.  Okra is a great thickener, so the gumbo wasn’t weak or watery.  Sure, shrimp stock would have provided some deeper flavor, but there was so much seafood in the stew that I think it evened out a bit.  As with most soups, I loved the way my kitchen smelled while everything was simmering.  My only regret?  Not having some crunchy oyster crackers or Saltines to crush on top of the gumbo (the rice and the veggies are soft, so some textural contrast would have been nice).  Overall, though, I think this is a good base recipe for gumbo that can be modified to suit one’s on-hand ingredients and personal taste.  Enjoy!

    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 yellow onions, chopped
    • 2 celery stalks, chopped
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 pound okra, cut into 1/4-inch slices
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
    • 1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves striped from the stem
    • 2 quarts stock
    • 1 pound peeled shrimp
    • 1 pound seafood of choice (I used a mix of squid, octopus, and mussels)
    • 3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
    • Chopped flat-leaf parsley and green onions, for garnish
    • Crusty French bread

    Start by making a roux base: Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Just as the foam subsides, add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to prevent lumps.  Cook the roux until it’s the color of a walnut and smells equally as nutty, this should take about 15 minutes.

    Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and okra; season with salt, cayenne, and Old Bay. Mix in the tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the vegetables are soft. Pour in the cooled stock and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the gumbo is dark and thick. Toss in the seafood, cook about another 15 minutes; adjust seasoning.

    To serve: Ladle the gumbo into shallow bowls and pile some rice in the center. Sprinkle the parsley and green onions over the top. Pass the French bread and hot sauce at the table.

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    Recipe: Garlic Basil Shrimp

    August 18, 2009

    While my fiance and I may disagree on fish–how often to eat it, whether to eat the skin, whether to serve it whole, et cetera–we can usually agree on shellfish.  We both love shrimp, which is convenient while dieting because it is a fairly healthy protein (it IS somewhat high in cholesterol, but we are fortunate that we don’t have problems in that area).  This shrimpy recipe called out to me because of its relatively short (and staple-centric) ingredient list and its quick preparation.  Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

    If you are trying to cook on a budget, I highly recommend scanning the supermarket sale fliers and grabbing bags of frozen shrimp when they are on sale.  The ones in the fish case are usually previously frozen anyway (unless you happen to live by the water and/or have a VERY good fishmonger), so you might as well save some money, right?

    As for what to serve with this dish, I went with orzo and it worked nicely.  You could use any sort of pasta you like, or you could go with the rice family of carbohydrates.  Even couscous would work, I think.  The key is, don’t pick a starch (or a side veggie, for that matter) that is going to overpower the beautiful fresh flavors of the basil and the tomatoes and the garlic.  They are the stars of this show!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds large shrimp (20 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.

    Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the oil remaining in skillet and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add wine and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in basil and tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Return the shrimp to pan and cook just until heated through.

    Garlic basil shrimp

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