Life / Food

Shrimp paired with pineapple brings elegance and sweetness

After all the cooking and shopping that the holidays inspire us to do, I'm looking forward to pulling out some easy recipes that use pantry ingredients that I keep on hand. One of my favourite items to keep in the freezer is frozen shrimp.

I keep both cooked and uncooked versions. Raw shrimp cook up in minutes and have more flavour , so I use them for pasta dishes and easy sheet-pan suppers. But cooked shrimp have their place on my menu, too. I love how quickly they thaw for salads and appetizers and other cold preparations.

The downside to pre-cooked shrimp is the texture is a notch softer. My solution is to buy the large shrimp and then cut it in half. I know this may be counter-shrimp culture, so feel free to leave them large, but the solution works for us.

A super easy go-to recipe for shrimp for us is my Shrimp Pineapple Brochette, which uses easy pantry ingredients — you can even use canned pineapple — to create something that still feels high-end.

It's healthy and versatile, working as either a meal when paired with some greens, a first course, or even an appetizer for parties. Shrimp brings protein and elegance, while pineapple balances out with both sweetness and acid. I use prepared pesto for some fat and flavour , and I highly recommend keeping a jar of prepared pesto in the freezer to scoop out for recipes. But, if you don't have any, just substitute a bunch of chopped herbs, olive oil and lemon juice for an easy, tasty version. And with skewers, I think it goes without saying that you can swap in whatever fruit you have in your kitchen — grapes, grapefruit, orange segments and even canned mango all work beautifully.

SHRIMP AND PINEAPPLE BROCHETTES

Servings: 4

Start to finish: 10 minutes

1 pound large cooked shrimp, cleaned, thawed if frozen

1 cup pineapple cubes, about 1/2-inch each, drained and halved if using typical large canned chunks (grapefruit or orange may be used)

1 tablespoon prepared pesto sauce

1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

black pepper

a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) kosher salt

chopped fresh mint, parsley or basil, optional

12 small or 8 large skewers, or 24 toothpicks if making appetizer bites

Cut shrimp into halves or thirds, depending on size of shrimp. Thread the skewers with alternating shrimp and fruit. Lay the skewers on a platter.

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice to the pesto sauce to thin it and stir. Drizzle the pesto mixture over the skewers, aiming mostly for the shrimp. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil onto the skewers. Top with freshly ground black pepper, the kosher salt and chopped herbs, if desired. Serve as a first course, an appetizer, or with a green salad for a light meal.

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Nutrition information per serving: 130; 35 calories from fat; 4 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 145 mg cholesterol; 720 mg sodium; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 16 g protein.

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Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy."

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Online: http://www.melissadarabian.net

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