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Pair shrimp and spinach for a nutritious meal

By Detroit Free Press
McClatchy Newspapers
Shrimp Francese is an easy meal to make. Spinach is a nutritional bonus.

When I saw today's recipe for Shrimp Francese in the April issue of Food Network magazine, it was the spinach and tomatoes that caught my eye.

Several recipes in recent food magazines feature grape or cherry tomatoes and spinach. Many make use of cooked tomatoes because sautéing or even roasting grape tomatoes gives them an extra burst of sweetness.

And the spinach? Well, it's just a nutritional bonus. A dark leafy green, spinach is a good source of vitamins and minerals and is low in calories.

When it comes to shrimp, a 4- to 5-ounce serving goes a long way. A good source of protein, shrimp is categorized by how many are in 1 pound. The lower the number, the bigger the shrimp. Look for the count listed on the package or a label next to the price at seafood counters. Choosing which size to buy depends on how you plan to use or serve the shrimp.

For main-dish servings, I go with the larger, 16 to 21 count per pound. Nice and plump, they make a nice presentation.

Sometimes shrimp is labeled with terms like colossal, jumbo, extra-large, large, medium and small. I have found that when they are labeled that way, the sizes vary from store to store. For example, the original recipe called for 1 1/4 pounds extra-large shrimp or about 20 shrimp or five shrimp per serving. The shrimp labeled extra-large at my store had 26 to 30 per pound.

I opted for the jumbos at 16 to 25 per pound, and they were decent-size shrimp.

You can find most raw shrimp peeled and deveined. If they are not peeled, you might see the label EZ-Peel. This means that the shrimp are deveined and their shells are cut or split through the back, making them easier to peel.

If they are not, use a small pair of scissors to cut along the back through the shell and into the flesh so you can remove the dark vein. For this recipe, the shrimp are butterflied, so you'll want to cut a little deeper into the flesh along the back.

Francese in this recipe means "in the French manner" and refers to food that is usually dipped in egg and then in seasoned flour and fried to golden brown.

Shrimp Francese

Serves 4. Adapted from Food Network magazine, April 2013 issue. Prep time, 15 minutes. Total time, 40 minutes.

     1     pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 20 shrimp)

     3     large eggs

     Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

     2     tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided

     Olive or canola oil for frying

     1    cup all-purpose flour

     2/3  cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

     3/4  cup dry white wine

     Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

     1    cup cherry tomatoes, halved

     4     tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

     2     packages (5 ounces each) baby spinach

MAKE a deep cut along the outer curved edge of the shrimp, then spread open like a book. Pat dry.

WHISK the eggs with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon parsley in a bowl. Heat about 1/8 inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Working in batches, dredge the shrimp in the flour, dip in the egg mixture and add to the skillet cut-side down; fry, turning, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

POUR out any oil from the skillet and wipe clean. Add the broth, wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced, 4 minutes. Push the tomatoes to one side; whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Stir in the shrimp and the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

MEANWHILE put the spinach in a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle with water and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and pierce the plastic; microwave until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Divide the spinach and shrimp mixture among plates and top with the sauce.

Nutrition information: 478 calories (57 percent from fat), 31 grams fat (10 grams saturated fat), 20 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 658 sodium, 326 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.


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