We had such a fantastic visit with my family on Long Island last week. I know I’ve said this before, but I really adore East Coast summers. The energy is just so amazing. But I also love living in Southern California, close to the beach, with a farmers market close by every day of the week. I know everyone talks about the weather being the greatest thing about living in Los Angeles, but for me it’s the year-round access to phenomenal, locally grown, seasonal produce. Just had a moment of gratitude when I got back to my markets.
But I came home to more than just great peaches and tomatoes. Waiting for me in the mail were a few very thick envelopes with school registration documents: forms for PTA donations, yearbooks and class pictures, volunteer sign-up sheets, PE clothing order forms, and so on. Noooooooooo! The first day of school in our district is the Wednesday before Labor Day. Friends, I’ve got two weeks, and then the party’s o-vah!
So until then, I will frantically try to make the most out of summer. Daily tomato-eating will continue with corn and peaches tied for second. I was thumbing through Dr. Mark Hyman’s (I’m a big fan!) “Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook,” when I noticed this recipe for Shrimp Salsa. Sounds like a party to me! It’s everything I love about summer food — fresh, light, easy and it includes tomatoes. Dr. Hyman is all about keeping blood sugar stable to avoid unnecessarily triggering an insulin flood (it’s an inflammatory, fat-storage hormone, you know.) So, many of his recipes are low in simple carbohydrates, with an emphasis on vegetables, whole grains and lean, organic, pastured meats and wild seafood. I followed Dr. Hyman’s Blood Sugar Solution Challenge last summer and I appreciate his emphasis on prevention of chronic disease and looking at food as medicine. But at the end of the day, shrimp salsa is just going to make me happy.
Eating and sharing this salsa confirmed something I have learned since I have been cooking for other people: ask three people to taste a particular recipe and you’ll get three different opinions. I shared this delicious salsa with my assistant and a friend and it was so interesting to observe how we each responded — we all loved it, but one wanted it with more heat, someone else less lime, me, of course, more salt and so on. My advice to you is that if shrimp salsa sounds good to you, be conservative with a few of the ingredients (garlic, lime, heat, cilantro), because you can always add more, and just adjust to taste. From a nutritional perspective, this is a very low calorie, low fat, low carb, high protein recipe. Shrimp are an unusually concentrated source of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient called astaxanthin, as well as an excellent source of the antioxidant mineral selenium. Here’s a good place to find more information about the health benefits of shrimp.
We enjoyed the salsa on the first day with tortilla chips, although Dr. Hyman suggests raw veggies. But I really loved it on the second day when I put it over rice and beans (see above image.) Perfect dinner for me. Even if your family is back to school this week (omg), there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy!
adapted from “The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook” by Mark Hyman, MD
makes about 4 cups of salsa
I cut the original recipe in half because it made a ton, and I also made some adjustments, specifically to the quantities of garlic and lime juice. Feel free to omit the garlic altogether and start out conservative with the lime juice since some limes are juicier than others. Try the juice of one lime to start and then you can always add more. Also, the cookbook calls for “tomato sauce,” which does not mean marinara or spaghetti sauce. It’s referring to cans of tomato puree with a small amount of seasoning, like this from Contadina. I didn’t have that on hand so I used Pomi tomato puree. But you can also use fresh, seeded tomato that’s been chopped finely or pulsed in the food processor.
¾ pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I asked the fishmonger to do this)
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato or 1 whole plum tomato, seeded and finely chopped
½ small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped or your favorite hot sauce to taste
1 ½ avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
½ small bunch fresh cilantro (about 1 ½ ounces), finely chopped (leaves and tender stems) – I chopped a handful.
1 clove garlic, minced (original recipe called for 3 cloves)
juice of 2 limes (original recipe called for 4 limes)
1 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree (not marinara sauce)
sea salt to taste
a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. In a saucepan, bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until just pink, 2-3 minutes.
- Drain the shrimp and transfer to the bowl of reserved ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the shrimp are cold, drain and chop them into bite-size chunks.
- Add the shrimp pieces to a large nonreactive container (like glass or ceramic) along with the onion, tomato, jalapeno, avocados, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and tomato sauce/puree. Cover the container and refrigerate to marinate for at least 3 hours.
- Serve as a dip with tortilla chips (not on the Blood Sugar Solution diet!) or raw crunchy vegetables. I loved it over rice and beans.