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3 ways to make shrimp the star of your weeknight dinner

Lauren Booker

Spicy shrimp and orzo pasta salad


3 ways to make shrimp the star of your weeknight dinner

Think seafood is only for weekend meals and date nights out? Think again. From scallops to shrimp and salmon to sea bass, most seafood is quick-cooking and requires little, if any prep work, making it an ideal centerpiece of a weeknight dinner.

Above all of these options, shrimp is one of the easiest types of seafood to incorporate into your routine. If you purchase shrimp that has already been peeled and deveined, you won't have to do anything but cook it — in five minutes or less. Even better? Shrimp's mild flavor and fun shape makes it totally kid-friendly. Here are three recipes to help you get started. 

Spicy Shrimp and Orzo Pasta Salad
Great as a healthy dinner or easy-to-pack lunch, this summery pasta salad packs big flavor, with Fresno chiles and fresh herbs countering the subtle salinity of the quick-cooking shrimp. Seedless English cucumber slices and sweet grape tomatoes bring additional texture and heft to the pasta salad. And, best of all, this dish can be made well in advance of dinner (or lunch). Unlike rotini, penne or farfalle — the most typical choices for pasta salad — orzo never becomes firm and gritty once cooled down. Just make sure to wait to add the basil close to serving time — you’ll end up with a much prettier dish.
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Easy Shrimp Creole
If you prefer a heartier seafood dinner, consider gleaning inspiration from New Orleans and whipping up this one-dish shrimp Creole. This simple take on the classic dish employs a few shortcuts — canned tomatoes, pre-mixed Creole seasoning and a few dashes of Worcestershire — but its bold, spicy flavor is still in full force. If chopping a few veggies is about all you can handle on a weeknight, consider purchasing shrimp that’s already been peeled and deveined; that way, you’re only a sauté and a simmer away from dinner. 
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Coastal Shrimp Spaghetti
For another easy dinner, boil up a pot of spaghetti to pair with a bright, fresh shrimp-filled tomato sauce. The tender seafood is a perfect match to fresh tomatoes, shallots and garlic, jazzed up with a drizzle of white wine and lemon juice. To finish the sauce, we recommend adding a hefty tab of rich, European butter along with piquant red pepper flakes and herbaceous parsley. Take these steps, and you’ll get a restaurant-quality entree in less than 30 minutes. We call that a serious weeknight win.
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Looking for more shrimp dishes? We've got 3 simply scrumptious shrimp dishes to try tomorrow.  

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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.