Coffee heat rising

Sautéed Shrimp in Bed with Curried Spinach

Long as we’re talking about spinach

The other day I made the most amazingly delicious dinner: sautéed garlic shrimp over a bed of curried spinach. Ridiculously easy to make, it takes advantage of the cost-saving scheme to freeze fresh spinach, or it can be used on ordinary grocery-store frozen or fresh greens. You could no doubt use kale, chard, or other kinds of greens in this recipe. Try it out:

You need:

  • Enough spinach to serve your diners
  • Enough shrimp, peeled, to serve the same
  • Olive oil
  • Butter (plenty of it)
  • Fresh garlic (one or two cloves, to taste)
  • Herbs to your taste (I used tarragon, but about anything you like is nice)
  • A palmful of pine nuts, if you have them on hand
  • Curry powder*
  • Lemon juice
  • 2 frying pans

Defrost the shrimp and spinach, as necessary. Finely chop the garlic.

Melt the butter in one frying pan. Pour enough olive oil into the other frying pan to coat the bottom surface.

Place the spinach in the frying pan with the butter and sprinkle a small amount of curry over it (or a large amount: to taste!). Stir to incorporate the butter richly with the spinach, and allow this to cook over medium-low heat while you fix the shrimp.

Heat the olive oil over a medium to medium-high burner. Add the garlic and, if you have them, some pine nuts. Cook briefly and then add the shrimp. Sprinkle some tarragon or other herb over it, and cook until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through. (Don’t overcook.) Squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon over the cooked shrimp.

Distribute the spinach on the dinner plates. Then place the shrimp atop the spinach, distributing them evenly among the diners. Pour the juice left in the shrimp frying pan over the servings.

With a salad or some crusty French bread, this makes a very fine dinner.

*Curry Powder

Commercial curry powders are often very high in salt. If you’re trying to keep your sodium intake under control, you can get a salt-free curry powder from Penzy’s in two versions: sweet and hot. The hot is a little much for my taste, and since I grew up in the Middle East, that is tellin’ you something. The sweet is very good and can be heated up to the extent you like simply by adding as much or as little ground red pepper as desired.

Alternatively, you can make your own, creating a highly excellent spice combo:

  • 3 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds or 3 or 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp whole cardamom seeds, hulled (i.e., get the ones that are not inside the papery pods, which are a nuisance)
  • 2 to 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • about 1/4 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dry, ground ginger
  • 1/3 tsp yellow or black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole white peppercorns (black would probably do)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Measure the ingredients into a blender jar. When everything is loaded into the blender, turn the machine to high and pulverize the bedoodles out of the stuff. It should be reduced to a fine, fragrant powder, with no chips of seeds left. An old coffee grinder that you will not use again to grind coffee beans does the job handsomely.

I’ve bought many of these spices at Penzey’s, an upscale gourmet store, because I didn’t want to drive all over the city. However, if you have some time on your hands, many of the ingredients can be found much more cheaply at Asian or Mexican ethnic markets. Many, too, are packaged by American companies and retailed at ordinary supermarkets and through Amazon. So, by way of stocking up frugally, take a few days and seek out these goodies at decent prices. Try to get whole seeds, which make a much more fragrant, vibrantly flavored product.