Shrimp Scampi with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

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At my first restaurant job in Dilworth, Minnesota, I worked “the line” with a guy named Leo. He loved shrimp and would tell me over and over that scampiactually means “shrimp”, so Shrimp Scampi really means “shrimp shrimp”. Leo was an interesting guy and whenever us other line cooks would impersonate him, we’d use the line about Shrimp Scampi.

Eventually, Leo moved on and got a job at a restaurant managed by my friend’s mom. My friend worked there as a bus boy and, when he asked Leo if I was a good cook, Leo replied by saying, “He’s got a lot to learn.” I have to admit, at the time, it hurt my feelings. But, knowing what I know now, Leo’s observation could not have been more accurate!

Just remember that, when it comes to food, the pool of information that you don’t know is exponentially larger than what you do know. If you want to go far in the culinary world, it only makes sense to take a humble approach. Everyone, like Leo, has something to teach you. Whether it’s the meaning of scampior at which temperatue collagen turns to gelatin, I encourage you to be open and willing to learn. As I’ve always said, “being haughty is naughty”.

As for today’s preparation, I think it belongs on everyone’s list of things to learn to cook. If you are a member and watch the whole video, you can see that I prepare this “world-class” meal in under 5 minutes. That’s faster than most people can take a frozen pizza out of the freezer and preheat the oven, let alone cook the pizza. As always, I recommend wild shrimp, organic produce, and grass fed butter, but do what works/is available to you (even eating farmed shrimp is better than the frozen pizza). If you could splurge for one of these items, it would be the wild shrimp. Farmed shrimp are cheaper, but their flavor doesn’t compare and they look like they were turned out in a fake food factory…

If you haven’t seen my “Get It Together!” menu plan and grocery list, be sure to check it out. If you have seen it and are in the midst of following it, please provide me with feedback. I hope to make this a weekly thing and in order for that to happen in a successful manner, I need feedback.

I hope you all have a great weekend and that you get out and enjoy some springtime air. I am getting amped up about my trip to Nicaragua and almost have the specifics locked down for the Alaska Culinary Adventure this fall.

Stay tuned, cook Shrimp Scampi often, make the most of your life, and “Keep It Paleo!”.

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

(I love being this guy’s dad.)

Shrimp Scampi with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredient List:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 handfuls fresh spinach
  • 7 each, U/15 wild shrimp, peeled and deveined (freeze the shells for stock)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved through the stem attachment
  • 1/4 cup white wine, I used Chardonnay
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, be careful to strain the seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon grass fed butter

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Wilt the spinach in a hot saute pan by stirring regularly until bright green and “wet” looking. Transfer to a plate and return pan to the burner
  2. Add olive oil to pan, season shrimp with kosher salt and pepper and place them, seasoned side down in the hot oil. Season the new top side with salt and pepper. After 20 seconds, add the garlic making sure that it finds its way into some olive oil.
  3. After 1 minute, turn the shrimp and stir the garlic around. As soon as garlic begins to toast, add the white wine and swirl pan to release and fond (sticky bits of shrimp/garlic).
  4. When wine has reduced by half, add the cilantro and the butter. Reduce heat and swirl pan constantly until butter is melted. You want a creamy looking sauce, not something that is broken and oily.
  5. Once butter is melted, remove pan from heat, make a bed of spinach on a plate, top with shrimp, place cherry tomatoes around the edge and drizzle pan sauce over the shrimp.
  6. Poila! You are a Culinary Ninja. Grab a fork and knife and eat completely without looking up. Remember, he who breathes the least wins and don’t be afraid to lick your plate!

“Keep It Paleo!”

Zone Breakdown:

Proteins: (12)

We have 7 U/15 shrimp, which is approximately 1/2 pound. We’ll go with 7.5 ounces and there are 1.5 ounces of shrimp in one protein block, so 5 protein blocks.

Carbohydrates: 

Spinach is 4 cups raw per block. I am estimating we used 6 cups, so 1.5 blocks.

I’ll give another half block for the wine, lemon juice, garlic and cilantro.

Tomatoes are 1 block per cup, so one block.

Fats: (21)

Olive oil is 1/3 tsp per block. We used 1 tablespoon and there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, so 9 fat blocks.

Butter is 1/3 tsp per block. We used 1 tablespoon and there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, so 9 fat blocks.

The Balancing Act:

I make the above calculations using the 1.5g fat per block calculation. If you are a CrossFitter, then I recommend using 3g fat per block, which would put this at 9 total blocks. There is a Zone practice where you replace half of your carb blocks with twice as many fat blocks. In this case, if were to do that, we’d need to be at 5P, 2.5C, and 10F, which is pretty close to what we have if we are using the 3g calculation. If you want to limit your fat intake, then leave out the the olive oil that I drizzle in the spinach and cut the other olive oil and butter in half. The kicker with this is that we need enough cooking agent to toast the garlic and caramelize the shrimp, so pick your battles. If you are going to overeat one of the macro-nutrients, then fat is the one I’d choose because it is glycemically neutral. You follow? If not, sign up for my “Dial It In” Nutrition Coaching Service and we can discuss this at length…

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