Everything Happens for a Reason

The Pistou sat there. It was getting increasingly annoyed with me. Every time I opened the refrigerator, I could hear it practically spitting at me in a French accent: “Why do I just sit here? Why do you not use me? Am I not good enough for your ridiculous American recipes? Pah!”

The Mint Pistou was the remainder of the Ugly Soup episode, the superfluous byproduct of Gourmet’s original recipe. It was tasty, a blend of fresh-from-the-garden (someone else’s garden, of course) mint and parsley, a scallion, and some of my favorite extra-virgin olive oil, a French version of pesto. The soup didn’t need it, but the pistou didn’t deserve to sit there and rot. It didn’t ask to be born.

Fortunately, the Superfluous Pistou collided with a summertime hankering for shrimp kebobs. Could I repurpose the pistou into a marinade for the wild jumbo fresh shrimp I just shelled out $15.99 a pound for at Whole Foods? Either this was going to be a brilliant marriage of flavors or a colossal mess. After the Rainbow Chard Incident, my confidence was shaken, but thankfully not stirred.

The pistou, in it’s original state, was too thick to act sufficiently as a marinade, but some lime juice took care of that. And since cooking would dull it’s original bright flavors (even more than sitting forlornly in the fridge did) I added some shallot and garlic to punch it up. Despite the grilling, the mint flavor shone through and brought out the shrimp’s sweetness.

Voila! The Superfluous Pistou has become indispensible! I have discovered the reason for it's existence. And, to it's snooty French delight, I 'll definitely make it again.

Mint Pistou Shrimp Kebabs

Serves 4

Note: Since shrimp and vegetables tend to cook at different rates, it makes more sense to skewer them each separately and combine in a bowl, as they come off the grill.

3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 large scallion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
1 medium red onion
1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms

1. Cut onion and zucchini into 1 1/2” pieces. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel and cut tips off stems.

2. Pulse mint, parsley, and scallion in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a stream, then add water and salt, blending until incorporated. Whisk in lime juice, shallot, and garlic.

3. Toss the shrimp with enough pistou to generously coat. Marinate 30 minutes. Skewer on soaked wooden skewers or metal kebob skewers.

4. Toss the vegetables, in separate bowls, each with enough pistou to coat. Marinate 30 minutes. Skewer the onions, mushrooms, and zucchini on separate soaked wooden skewers or metal kebob skewers.

5. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium. Coat with cooking spray. Grill shrimp skewers until pink, turning once. Timing depends on the size of the shrimp you use, but you probably won’t need to grill for longer than 3 minutes per side for colossal sized shrimp. Brush with additional pistou before turning. Grill zucchini and onion skewers until tender and caramelized, about 5-6 minutes each side. Grill mushrooms 2-3 minutes each side. Brush all with remaining pistou. Once cooked, serve on skewers, or slide off skewers and toss together in a serving bowl.


Hanh and Jeff said...

Why is that your favorite extra virgin olive oil? I haven't had it, just curious...

Andrea said...

their house oil is just the right balance of grassy and fruity for me.
their persian lime flavored oil is terrific as well.

although, i just bought some new EVOO from an italian purveyor at a farmer's market during a trip to minneapolis. and that stuff is damn good too!