It’s the first week of Fall. It has been slightly cooler in the morning. I feel it in the mornings when I run. I’m not making it up - it is just slightly cooler. Fall is actually one of my favorite seasons, from the changing leaves to the cooler temps, to all the flavors in baking (pumpkin, maple, apple, cardamom). So even though the leaves don’t change here in Miami, I love the concept of seasons changing. How cool is it that the last couple of days the day and night hours were in perfect balance? How often does that happen and what does that mean to you? For me I took a moment just to reflect and see what could become more balanced in my life. I slowed down and paused, took a moment to breathe, and simply embraced the change. It doesn’t get any more gorgeous than that shot of Miami at the golden hour. Does it?
So what do Fall and shrimp packets have to do with each other? I’ll get to the shrimp packets in a minute. Promise. They have nothing to do with each other but everything to do with each other. All will be explained. I just got back from a girls weekend trip to NY. To say that we laughed is an understatement. One of our friends moved to NY about a year ago and between all of our schedules we finally made it for a visit. And man how glad I am to have gone. It’s great to connect with people and make time even when you think there isn’t time.
The joke between us is that I’m a little out there with my cooking. I do try to make most things homemade and I definitely am always looking for the next thing I’m going to bake. But as I’ve said on the blog before, my journey is not your journey. My ultimate goal is for people to start cooking more and see that cooking doesn’t have to be difficult.
Rachel has been starting to cook more and has impressed me with some of the pictures she sends me. Sam on the other hand just loves to eat and doesn’t want to cook. But her husband does cook. And that’s where shrimp packets comes into the story.
Who doesn’t want to feel like they can cook a healthy meal, quickly? But who has the time to make it balanced? Enter my shrimp packets. They’re simple, easy, AND delish. I call that a win! I love that seafood in general doesn’t take that long to cook. Cooking in parchment paper essentially steams the seafood - shrimp in this case, but this would easily work with fish as well. And the best part? Parchment paper makes for easy clean-up! Yesssssss!
I always suggest to do a little meal prep over the weekend. Your “during the week and rushed self” will thank your “meal prep weekend self”. Trust me. An hour or two on the weekend can really help during the week and not make dinner time a dreaded time. I make the sauce on the weekend so I have it handy when I make this meal. If you’re cooking for a family of 4, the sauce is enough for 4 packets. If you wanted to double this and have it twice during the week, that’s an option too. I eat this twice during the first week and then twice during the 2nd week. I rotate my dishes so I don’t feel that I’m eating the same thing over and over. But if twice in a week is too much for your family, again, this does make a quick easy meal at least for one evening.
Another item I always meal prep on the weekends are my grains. I tend to rotate brown rice, quinoa, barley, and farro. I make this on the weekend and it really does warm up well. And if I estimated wrong and end up having extra, I either freeze it, use for a rice type bowl meal and/or turn it into a veggie burger of sorts. I am not here to say you have to meal prep your grain for the week, but in all honesty brown rice can take up to 40 minutes to cook…nobody has time for that! Unless I’m working on other things in the kitchen at the time.
The last item in this dish is a quick saute of a vegetable. Spinach is typically my go-to for this dish, but in all honesty, I can steam a veggie quickly and/or roast a veggie (to have for lunch the next week sometimes as well. It really all depends on my mood and what’s in my fridge. I try to use up as much of my produce as I can. And with my new fridge my vegetables have been lasting longer (and not going bad) in my crisper bins. Super impressed!
So there you have it. A quick weeknight meal that comes together in literally minutes - the time it takes to pre-heat the oven - to 20 minutes of cooking in parchment. I present to you shrimp packets, a dish so simple even Sam could make it! Love you Sam!
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 anchovies, rinsed and minced (you can leave these out as I have done before and it tastes equally as good. Just don’t be afraid to add them if you think it will give a fish flavor…’cuz it doesn’t!)
About 3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
About 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 Teaspoon paprika
1 lb extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact (the sauce will make ~4 packets, I take out ~6 -8 shrimp for myself to have for one packet.)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk the olive oil, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, basil, parsley, and paprika. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, and scallions; toss.
If I’m prepping the sauce for the week (which I do) simply whisk all together the ingredients for the sauce and refrigerate, not adding the shrimp, tomatoes, and scallions at the time, but simply drizzle on top when you make your packet If you are making this for your family of 4, make the sauce ahead and have ready to go for a quick week-night meal.
Tear off four 16-inch sheets of parchment paper. using a double layer of parchment for each packet: Arrange about one-quarter of the shrimp mixture on a double layer, using a slotted spoon. Seal as directed. Repeat to make 3 more packets; divide between 2 baking sheets.
*As I said, I make this sauce for the week and will have this dish 1-2 nights in the week. And then the following week I will have it again. I space it out so it doesn’t feel like I’m having the same dish.
*I always meal prep a grain for the week (or two). I rotate and have quinoa, farro, brown rice, and/or barley. I make enough to have for the week and/or freeze the extra. This is kind of my rotation. Yes, there are times when I’ll have brown rice two weeks in a row, but typically I’ll rotate the grain to have variety. I’ve had this dish with brown rice, barley, and farro.
*I already said it in the directions, but if you think you won’t like anchovies, you don’t have to add them in. I’ve left them out before (by accident) and it tastes delicious. But I do challenge you to add them in. You won’t even detect a fishy taste…and I never add salt since they’re so salty.
*Shrimp for protein, grain for my carbohydate and 9 times out of 10 I’m sauteing some spinach for my vegetable,. Although I’ve been known to have this dish with steamed broccoli and/or roasted asparagus. You do you! Just make sure to include a vegetable. As always, leaving you with the money shot.