Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ice, Ice, Baby

Hethyr:  Sometimes you just need an easy dinner, but for me that's not an easy task anymore.  On just such an occasion during early Fall, we were also wicked-low on groceries (which usually just exacerbates the problem) so I went snooping through cupboards, refrigerators, freezers and pantries to come up with this beauty.

The night of the first freeze this year (while I was in Florida with my family during early October), I had Jon harvest everything possible out the garden... he was totally thrilled with me for that.  Yes, dear - I realize I owe you!  Everyone with a garden in Colorado Springs seemed to do the same thing that night, because Facebook statuses echoed our dilemma.  After picking all of the zucchini from our 15 (yes, 15...) plants, pulling many of the carrots and harvesting the winter squash (one Hopi Orange was basketball size!), I asked him to harvest as much of the cilantro as he could.  He cut plant after plant, wrapped them in paper towels and stowed them in the fridge in green bags for me to deal with when I got home.  When I returned, I promptly forgot about the cilantro for at least a week-and-a-half.  When I remembered it, I panicked and knew I had to do something with all of it immediately.  I thought about drying it, but decided on other ways of using it instead.  One of those ways was to make a boatload of Cilantro-Lime Dressing.  Another way was to make Cilantro Oil and freeze it in little cubes, which have come in really handy on several occasions.

On previously mentioned night when I needed an easy recipe, these were two of the items I came across while on my hunt for acceptable ingredients.  I also found some brown rice noodles, some frozen shrimp, a tomato, and a large zucchini.  Hmm.  Well, for one thing, all of those things sounded summery to me, so I figured I could come up with a way to work them all into one dish.  And what a dish it was!  This is one that we've had numerous times since, because it's versatile and oh, so easy.  Oh, and did I mention it's GLUTEN-, DAIRY-, and REFINED SUGAR-FREE?  Yep.  :)

Shrimp and Cilantro Noodles
(Gluten-, Dairy-, and Refined Sugar-Free)
Not the greatest photo, but the taste was great!

Makes 2 large servings

3-4 tablespoons olive oil or cilantro oil
8 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 - 8 oz. package brown rice noodles
2 cups grated zucchini
Approximately 1/4 cup Cilantro-LimeVinaigrette (I substituted honey for the sugar)
Handful cherry or grape tomatoes or fresh tomato, diced

1.  Cook brown rice noodles according to package directions; drain.

2.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil or cilantro oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat.  Add shrimp and cook 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side until just cooked through; remove and keep warm.

3.  Add a touch more oil to the same skillet and add zucchini; cook 1-2 minutes.

4.  Toss pasta with shrimp, zucchini, Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette and tomatoes; serve immediately.
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Jon:   I remember that week well... frantically chopping cilantro, zucchini, and squash out of the garden on the evening the frost arrived.  This was followed by a truly pathetic attempt to save the remainder of the plants.  As darkness descended and freezing rain began to fall, there I was, hammering wooden stakes into the ground and erecting various bedsheet-tents like some deranged lunatic, hoping that this thin cloth would miraculously save all the plants from certain death.

Our first zucchini... little did we know what was to come!

By the following morning, my cloth tents had soaked and turned to ice creating miniature igloos for the plants.  The zucchini and squash plants were not fond of their new igloo homes, as was evident by their brown, shriveled, lifeless appearance.  I dismantled the tents each morning and rebuilt them in the evening for several days in hopes of saving the onions and carrots.  Ultimately, these hearty plants survived, probably due to their underground existence and no thanks to my stupid bedsheet-igloos.

Hooray for gardening!