Quick Dinner Recipe: Saucy Sautéed Shrimp over Lemon Quinoa

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Everyone needs a few quick meals in their weeknight repertoire that feel like cooking cooking. You know, the kind where you pop open a bottle of wine to splash into the pan, and flourish your knife over an onion and some garlic, sautéing and shaking a skillet, cooking up a hot and delicious meal like a boss.

The best thing about a dinner like this, however, is when it takes just 20 minutes. Because as fun as cooking can be, it's also good to eat.

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This quick and saucy one-bowl meal is a recipe that encourages you to pull out a cutting board, your knife, and some beautiful vegetables (but not too many). It prompts you to open a bottle of white wine to cook with and to sip, and before you're on to your second glass, dinner is ready.

I love the lemon quinoa that forms the base of this dish. It's the longest-cooking element of the meal, taking about 20 minutes total, and coming out tangy and fluffy.

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It's topped with one of my favorite quick meal staples — tiny pink shrimp. They're much less expensive than jumbo shrimp, which can cost up to $25/pound or more. These little guys cost me $10/pound. And the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch lists these teeny shrimp, especially the wild-caught variety from Oregon, as a sustainable option.

I mix them with some sautéed onion, garlic, red pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes, along with a handful of fresh green parsley. Toss it all together, throw it over the quinoa, and pour that second glass of wine.

Saucy Sautéed Shrimp over Lemon Quinoa

Serves 2 to 4

1 cup golden quinoa
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup full-bodied white wine, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small red onion or 2 large shallots, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, finely sliced
1 pound fresh small pink shrimp

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under running water. In a 2-quart (or larger) saucepan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the drained quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the salt, the lemon juice (about 3 tablespoons), 1/4 cup white wine, and 1 1/2 cups water.

Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat. Simmer for covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Let stand covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa. Stir in the lemon zest and half of the minced parsley.

While the quinoa is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat in a deep heavy skillet. Add the garlic, red onion or shallot, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the garlic and tomatoes are soft and fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn or get crispy; let it cook slowly in the butter. Turn the heat to medium and add the second tablespoon of butter and the remaining 2/3 cup white wine. Whisk constantly and bring the wine to a simmer. Cook until slightly reduced and shiny. Turn the heat to its lowest setting and keep the sauce warm while you cook the shrimp.

Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. In a separate large skillet or wok, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter over high heat and sear the shrimp quickly until cooked — about 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the pan with the vegetables and sauce and toss with the remaining parsley. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediate, topping the lemon quinoa with shrimp and its sauce.

Updated from recipe originally published June 2007.

(Images: Faith Durand)

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