It's been an eventful five days since I last wrote on this blog.
On Sunday, I did the Portland Marathon with my friend Paul. It wasn't our best time, but it was a good race and I will take any excuse to travel to Portland. I tried three new restaurants, made two pilgrimages to my favorite bookstore and decided--again--that I was going to retire from doing marathons. I'll still do half-marathons, but the training for a full marathon takes up valuable cooking, reading and writing time. We'll see if I stick to it.
As much as I love eating in restaurants--and I love going to new restaurants--it was nice to cook again last night. Which is a good thing, since today the new appliances arrived and it looks like some sort of war (what would a kitchen war be called, I wonder? Discuss.) broke out in my kitchen.
This dish could easily be doubled, and don't skimp on the marinating time for the prawns--you can work on something else during that half an hour. If you're feeling adventurous and it's more than 40 degrees outside at night, you could cook the shrimp on an outdoor grill.
Post-Marathon Prawns and Saffron Orzo
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, June 2011
For the prawns:
1 lb. prawns or large shrimp, in their shells
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small peperoncino dried pepper, or 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 tbsp. low-sodium chicken broth
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced and with fronds reserved
Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 small head radicchio
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
For the orzo:
1 pinch saffron
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo pasta
Sea salt and fresh-ground pepper
Put the pinch of saffron in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons hot water and set aside to steep.
Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat; add garlic and red pepper and cook for about 30 seconds or until the garlic is light brown. Keep an eye on this, because the garlic can scorch very quickly.
Cut the fennel fronds from the stems, and chop enough to equal 1 tablespoon. Pour oil mixture into a medium bowl, add the fronds and chicken broth. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.
Cut a slit in the back of the prawns and devein if desired. Add the prawns to the oil mixture and toss. Marinate at room temperature for half an hour.
Heat an indoor grill or panini pan to high. While it is heating, drizzle lemon juice and last tablespoon of oil to the fennel/radicchio mixture. Add a little salt and pepper and set the salad aside.
Grill the prawns for two minutes on each side, brushing with the marinade. The shells should take on a caramel color and the prawn meat will turn bright pink. Don't overcook--prawns are too good to be tough.
Plate the salad greens and arrange the prawns over them. Serve with a side of orzo.
Makes enough for two people with leftovers.
Food/wine pairing: Serve with a lively, bright white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde or Viognier.