Friday, 9 September 2011

Cajun Persuasion

IGamberetti al Gusto "Cajun", con Couscous e Zucca Speziata alla Griglia
Cajun-Spiced Shrimp with Couscous and Pan-Roasted Spicy Pumpkin

It was time to bring a bit of spice back into my life this evening- spice of the Cajun variety. I love the blend of celery, paprika, garlic, cayenne, oregano, thyme, basil, bay leaf and it goes so well with shrimp and tomato as well as pumpkin... So that was what I decided to make for supper... obviously!

I started off by slicing the pumpkin thinly and I chose to use a variety that is known as the "Hokkaido" here in Germany- claiming to hail from the Japanese island. Well, I am not sure about that, but I AM sure of the fact that there is a reason that it is the best loved variety over here. It is just delicious! Apart from having a deep, nutty and mildly sweet flavor, it has is the only pumpkin I know of that does not need peeling... I thought you would like that detail! I do too! Pop the slices into a frying pan with a little water and bring them to the boil, flipping them over to make sure that all the slices get equally moistened. What you want to do is to get them to steam a little and pre-cook before we get them toasty and brown. Sure- you can pop them into the oven and do them that way- but this method will save you 45 at least- and you know how impatient I can get! In any case, as soon as the water has evaporated, add some grated garlic and ginger, the aforementioned spices, some salt and pepper and fry them at a moderate heat in a little bit of olive oil. Keep your eyes on them, but at the same time, prepare your couscous by adding boiling water to it, a little chicken broth, salt, pepper and a drop of olive oil. Stir it well and leave it to sit whilst you prepare the shrimps and get the rest of this yummy meal pulled together.

The shrimp go into a saucepan with a little olive oil, chopped garlic and grated ginger, finely sliced celery, finely sliced zucchini and a handful of cocktail tomatoes. Add some cayenne pepper, tomato paste, lime juice and thyme and crank up the heat. You don't want to overcook either the shrimp as they will dry out, or the vegetables as they will lose their "bite". Whilst they are rendering down, add some rosemary and nutmeg to the pumpkin and give it a last 2-3 minutes. If you put the rosemary in too early it will burn and you don't want that.

Serve the spicy shrimp on a bed of couscous and lay the toasty and delicious pumpkin around the outside... garnish with a little bit of fresh chives and a drizzle of olive oil and prepare your taste buds for an adventure! Bon voyage!

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