Ah, summer, the season that should be a time of rest and relaxation. The reality: most of us spend our summer trying to cram in sightseeing “vacations,” concerts in the park, a few days at the beach, hiking in the mountains, a weekend in the Gorge and so on. And if you have kids, then even more of your relaxation time is devoured driving them around. This frenetic pace not only leaves us dizzy, but depleted of energy for making dinner. And guess what, your in-laws called and they are coming for dinner tonight. What are you going to make?
Here is a simple summer dinner I like to throw together for just this occasion. This meal can serve 6-8 people, depending on appetites. Most of it can be prepped in the morning, leaving you with plenty of time to sip on a crisp glass of Pinot Gris with friends and family, instead of working away alone in the kitchen.
Lemon and Garlic Shrimp Served Over Rice
Cool Cucumber and Mint Salad
In the Morning:
Slice up watermelon, arrange on a platter, cover, and put in the fridge.
Make Cucumber Salad. Peel and slice 2 English cucumbers or other long variety. Peel and thinly slice ¼ of a red onion. Combine in a medium bowl, sprinkle with a dash of kosher salt and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced mint leaves and two tablespoons olive oil. Pour over cucumbers and onions. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Stir until all is evenly coated. Stick in fridge to keep cool.
Prep for Shrimp Dish. If using frozen shrimps, defrost 2 pounds of peeled, deveined, raw, medium-sized shrimp. Peel and slice 8 cloves of garlic. Mince ¼ cup Italian parsley. Cover all and stick in fridge until ready to use. Set a lemon on the counter to bring to room temperature.
Measure out your rice and pour into pot or rice maker.
Stick a couple of bottles of white wine in the fridge.
Half-an-Hour Before You Eat:
Cook rice. Remove wedge of Parmesan cheese from refridgerator to bring to room temperature.
Ten Minutes Before You Eat:
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Drop in garlic cloves and sauté for one minute. Add in the 2 pounds of shrimp and cook until pink, about 3-4 minutes. Squeeze juice of 1 lemon over the top of shrimp and sprinkle in parsley. Gently stir to combine.
Set cucumber salad and watermelon on the table. Call everyone to serve up. Spoon the shrimp over a scoop of rice and grate a bit of Parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy!
If you’d like to bookend your meal with nibblets and sweets, here’s what I recommend.
Appetizers: Pistachios and a bowl of cherry tomatoes.
Dessert: Small bowls of vanilla ice cream topped with fresh blueberries and dark chocolate sauce.