19 August 2013

Eats: pesto shrimp and avocado crostini (a la Macaroni Grill)

All-vegetarian August continues here on the blog today! Although, I’m adding an extra “A”... as in almost. Because today’s recipe... it features shrimp. Which is totally not a vegetable, which makes this Almost All-vegetarian August. Yet, I still can’t help but think of shrimp as a valid vegetarian option. Carnivore bias, what can I say?

Still, today’s decidedly pescatarian dish is one of my favorites on the menu at Macaroni Grill. Yeah yeah, it’s a chain restaurant in this city full of incredible independent places to dine. But half-price wine all summer? With their rosemary bread, and small plates menu? I mean, come on. It’s delish.

One of my favorite small plates on their menu is the pesto shrimp and avocado crostini, which is oddly missing from that online menu (nooo!) but still visible right there in the background, on the upper right. While I love having food made for me in the restaurant, I also take pride in making my own copycat dishes in my own house. It's my independent streak, I guess.

So! I copied these and ate them as dinner one night when Mr. P was out (the man doesn’t like beans OR shrimp). These would also work as an appetizer, small plate option, finger food for a party... versatile! And delicious and different!

Here we go! First up, you need some good bread.

These are copycat loaves of the aforementioned and delicious Macaroni Grill rosemary bread that I made, and YES, I do need to tell you about that (I’m all out of order nowadays). But no matter, for these crostini, just need some nice homemade or bakery bread – sandwich bread is right out. A nice loaf of Italian or French bread, and you’re good to go!

Slice it up and gather the rest of the ingredients:

Frozen shrimp (pre-cooked and de-veined, super important!), half of a ripe avocado, prepared pesto, a can of cannellini beans, and parmesan cheese. Not pictured: lemon juice, because I forgot.

Rub the bread with olive oil:

Then either toast it (hands-off) or grill it on the stovetop (hands-on, but probably tastier). I toasted it in the toaster oven while I prepared the crostini topping.

Speaking of the topping, I thawed a few shrimp (eight, to be exact – that’s why I like frozen, just take what you need!) and yanked off their tails and diced them up. The avocado gets halved and cubed – the other half gets returned to the fridge for later.

Then the beans get rinsed, and half of the can are added to a bowl with the shrimp and avocado. Next I added parmesan, pesto, and lemon juice – none of which I measured. But if I had to guess? Go with two tablespoons of pesto, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and... two tablespoons of parmesan. Sure!

Stir it all together, and then it’s just a matter of spooning it on the toasted bread. I like it just like that – chilled topping, warm bread, straight off the pan – but you could pop it all under the broiler if that’s more your jam.

Lately I’ve been all about combining flavors I wouldn’t normally think go together, and the pesto + avocado combination was totally new to me. The shrimp adds an extra dimension of flavor, and the citrus in the lemon juice ties it all together. So easy and so good! I prepped three for dinner, then saved the topping and bread (separately) and packed them for lunch the next day. YUM.

So, just in case Macaroni Grill has taken these off their menu (WHYYYY), now you can enjoy them too! Just make sure your vegetarian friends eat shrimp before you serve them.

As for everything else we’re eating, here’s Casa P’s meal plan for this week:

Sunday: Date night! It was supposed to be Saturday, but that got derailed when we realized our dinner venue was adjacent to the football stadium. Whoops!

Monday: new pasta recipe, bumped from last week!

Tuesday: chipotle chicken salad (serve it over lettuce instead of rice. Boom, less carbs!)

Wednesday: skillet lasagna, which I really thought I’d already shared here on the blog? But apparently not?

Thursday: Chinese pork and noodles (similar to pork faux mein)

Friday: On the road!

Saturday: Still out and about! Dinner will be at a wedding reception, which means it’ll be tasty!

Happy eating, dear readers!


Janice said...

Ahhh not so fast! There are different types of vegetarians. Some DO eat sea food, therefore I believe you are still strong in your all-vegan August :)

While it's only been a little over 2 wks, have you noticed any difference in eating more meatless meals? Am interested to hear how the month went at the end. If nothing else, you've added quite a variety of new dishes to make and eat :)