We’ve indulged, and now it is time to think about a little lighter experience at the dinner table!
The stars were with us, and our family was able to gather together and celebrate the holidays this year, only the second time we’ve all been together in over two years. This being Vermont, with its unpredictable weather fluctuations, the celebration happened almost a week after Christmas. Toss a December 30th granddaughter’s birthday in the mix, and we had a wonderful Christmas/Birthday/New Year gathering of my whole brood. In these unpredictable times, any event actually happening is a blessing indeed!
So, we feasted on the precious bounty of being together, and of course, on all the festive foods and beverages we look forward to. From fresh Maine lobsters and oysters, to champagne and lots of chocolate, we did it up in style, counting not a calorie along the way, and laughing through it all.
Let’s lighten things up a little
However, now is the time to get back to a little lighter, healthier fare! Since my husband had a cardiac event in November, we have to be really careful about saturated fat. Santa brought me a new air fryer, and this week I will actually read the instructions and do some experimenting. But for this weekend, I’ll stick with a tried-and-true recipe that is always a hit – Lemon and Garlic Shrimp, but this time I’m serving it over spaghetti squash, I’ll use a bit less oil, and omit the butter, substituting some quick shrimp stock made from the shells in its place.
A little green
I’ve also added some baby spinach to the mix to bump up the nutrition even more, and tossed in some parsley, which is also filled with vitamins and minerals. I’m proud to say, I’m still harvesting lots of herbs from my cold frame: parsley, thyme, sage, and even rosemary which was an experiment! If I can keep rosemary in my cold frame in Vermont to January, it’s good indeed! We still have some Swiss chard growing as well, but I’ve used most of it, so the best I could manage from it at this time would be a little garnish since it really isn’t growing. I plan more experiments for next year.
If you don’t have baby spinach, use any green you love from baby kale to arugula. You can even use frozen spinach if you thaw it and drain it really well. Us any favorite mushroom as well.
Every scrap is used, and flavor abounds
One thing I love about this dish is that every scrap from the ingredients is put to work adding luscious flavor. We’re using all the vegetable scraps as well as the shrimp shells to create a quick little flavorful stock that enhances the squash and every other part of the dish. Mom would approve since she saved every crust of bread or onion skin. Before I toss anything in the compost heap, I ask myself if it would work in stock (beets don’t but most other veggie scraps do) and I tuck it away. I might not use it, but it’s there if I want it.
Prep everything, then concentrate on the spaghetti squash, the rest of the dish comes together in minutes. I’m using the microwave method here to cook the squash which is much faster than baking, and the seed cavity is actually easier to remove. If you prefer to bake it, you can just slice the squash in half along the equator (the “strands” will be longer) and place it flesh-side-down on a baking sheet with a little water. This will take upwards to an hour, but it’s almost all hands-off.
I used 21-30 shrimp here which is what I found that day, but you can use larger if you like. Once the spaghetti squash is nestled in the shrimp stock, the rest of the dish comes together in just minutes.
Guilt-free and delicious! Light and luscious!
Lemon Garlic Shrimp over Spaghetti Squash
- 1 lb. wild USA shrimp
- 1 large shallot, chopped, skins and all
- Small bunch parsley
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- 1 tsp. honey
- 10 oz. baby spinach
- ½ cup dried fresh bread crumbs
Prep the vegetables. Chop the shallot, skins and all and add to a pot. Cut the stems off the parsley and mince them, and toss them in too. Mince about a half cup of the leaves, separately, and set aside. Slice the mushrooms, toss the stems in the stock pot, mince the garlic and toss the skins in the pot as well. Rinse the spinach. Zest the lemons and juice them. Set all this aside.
Peel and devein the shrimp. Refrigerate the shrimp and place the shells, whole shallot, and the stems of the parsley and mushrooms in a pot with the olive oil. On high, brown slightly for a few minutes then add three cups of water and a little salt and pepper, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain, reserve a half cup, and set the rest of this stock aside in a large bowl, in a warm oven, 250 degrees.
Pierce the spaghetti squash with a sharp knife, be careful, and place on a plate in the microwave for five minutes. If your squash is over 4 lbs., cook for seven. Remove from the microwave and cut it in half at the equator. Return to the microwave for another five (or seven) minutes. Remove and scrape out the seeds, they will come out easily. Then, place the squash back in the microwave for a final five to seven minutes or so, or until the flesh strings away easily. Scrape our the flesh strings and add to the bowl of stock, and continue to keep warm in the oven. You can get all this done and take a breath.
Now, it goes fast. Pat the shrimp dry, season, and dust with flour. Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil and the shrimp in a single layer. Sprinkle with about half the garlic and cook for about two minutes, turn, and cook another minute or so, or until pink and just curled. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm. Drizzle a bit more oil to the pan and add the mushrooms and the rest of the garlic. Saute until they brown. Add the parsley, lemon juice and zest, honey, and some salt and pepper. Ladle in the quarter cup of the reserved shrimp stock, scraping up any glaze from the pan. Stir in the spinach, cover, and remove from the heat. It will wilt.
Arrange the spaghetti squash on a large platter (you won’t need to plate all the juice yet), top with the mushroom mixture, and arrange shrimp on top. You can drizzle more of the stock, it adds to the dish, garnish with a little more parsley, or breadcrumbs if you want some texture, and if you like add some chopped tomatoes for a little color.
© Copyright 2021– or current year, The New Vintage Kitchen. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to The New Vintage Kitchen, with active link and direction to this original post.
The New Vintage Kitchen does not accept ads or payment for mention of products or businesses.