Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rev up your engines!

Many research studies have concluded that even a small amount of cayenne pepper (or other hot spices) can speed up your body's metabolism, thus not only boosting your energy but also burning calories more efficiently. Here are a couple of ways to add more spice to your life: a grill-friendly shrimp barbecue over fresh tomato salad (just in time for tomato season that's almost upon us), and a complex tasting party dip that also makes a tasty spread for turkey or vegetable sandwiches.

Spicy Shrimp with Tomato Salad

Serves 8


1/3 cup packed basil leaves, plus extra leaves for garnish

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 1/4 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons pure ancho chile powder

1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

24 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 large yellow heirloom tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced


In a blender, puree the 1/3 cup of basil leaves with the olive oil until smooth. Season the oil with salt and black pepper.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, mix the sweet smoked paprika with the pure ancho chile powder, light brown sugar, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Brush the shrimp with the canola oil and season all over with the spice mixture. Grill the shrimp over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are lightly charred and cooked through, about 4 minutes total.

Arrange the tomato and onion slices on a platter and drizzle with the basil oil. Top with the shrimp, garnish with the remaining basil leaves and serve.

Red Pepper and Nut Dip

(Makes 3 cups)


1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup unsalted roasted pistachios

1/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews

3 medium red bell peppers (1 pound), cut into 2-inch pieces

1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup toasted bread crumbs

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Cayenne pepper


In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the pine nuts and almonds and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to a plate.

Add the walnuts to the skillet and cook, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a food processor and let cool completely. Add the pistachios and cashews and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. Scrape the finely chopped nuts into a medium bowl. (Serve with crackers, pita triangles or corn chips)

Add the bell peppers and onion to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the pepper mixture to a fine-mesh sieve and press to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the mixture to the chopped nuts. Stir in the pine nuts, almonds, bread crumbs and olive oil. Season with salt and cayenne and serve.

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