Fresh Shrimp Summer Rolls with Coconut-Lemongrass Dipping Sauce

Hello! How is your summer going? We've been (finally) enjoying some warm weather here in Seattle and it feels like we're packing a lot into our days. A few weeks ago Noah and I spent some much needed time out in the woods on the Olympic Peninsula. We visited the Enchanted Valley, which was my first actual overnight backpacking trip ever! Kind of embarrassed to say that seeing that I've traveled all over the globe and camped at least a million times... But now I'm hooked and can't wait to strap a 40lb pack on my back again and go on some more deep woods adventures! If you want to read more about our trip, check back in a week or two - we're planning a post about it. 

This week, though, we're talking about fresh shrimp summer rolls with a coconut-lemongrass dripping sauce. So good!! We make fresh rolls quite often in the summer because they're relatively easy to make once you get the hang of rolling them up (my job, not Noah's ;). And they don't require turning on the oven, which is a big plus on hot summer nights. These shrimp came straight down from Alaska gratis from Noah's parents (thanks!) and they are so sweet and delicious. If you decide to make this recipe (which I hope you do), please go for the good quality and sustainably caught shrimp because they're totally worth it - both for your taste buds and for the environment. Much of the frozen shrimp that are in the grocery store have been washed with chlorine to kill bacteria or treated with other chemicals. This leaves a definite chlorine or bleach taste on the shrimp that - to me - is unacceptable. Furthermore, shrimp harvesting practices range from sustainable to downright destructive. So please - do your research and care about where your food comes from. 

// Fresh Shrimp Summer Rolls with Coconut-Lemongrass Dipping Sauce // makes 6 large rolls
Summer rolls are one of my favorite summer meals because they are fresh and light for hot days. Not to mention delicious! But, they are kind of time consuming to make... Totally worth it, though, in my opinion! You can even use up random ingredients in the fridge or garden without having to run to the store. Try different protein, veggie, and dip combinations. If this is your first time rolling rice paper wrappers, the first few rolls that you make probably won't look too pretty, but keep at it! They'll get better with practice :)

For the Coconut-Lemongrass Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Noodles:
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated cane sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces bean thread noodles
4 cups boiling water

Summer Roll Fillings:
12 large, frozen and thawed shrimp, uncooked and unshelled - about 1 pound
1 small ripe mango, sliced into strips
1 small avocado, sliced into strips
1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
12 long strips of red bell pepper
12 large butter lettuce leaves, more if needed
~1/4 cup each of fresh thai basil, mint, and cilantro
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
12 summer roll wrappers

1. To make the coconut-lemongrass dipping sauce, place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high-speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour sauce into a bowl and refrigerate until needed

2. To make the noodles, place dry noodles in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt. Bring 4 cups water (roughly - no need to measure) to a boil. Pour hot water over noodles and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Let drain again until all water has been removed. Toss noodles with sauce and let sit until ready to make rolls

3. To cook the shrimp, bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling, salt heavily and turn heat down to medium-high. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are red and tails have curled under slightly. Drain and rinse with cool water. Remove shells

4. To make rolls, lay out all filling ingredients on plates and platters so they are accessible. Fill a pie dish or large bowl with warm water for rehydrating rice wrappers (you will need to keep replenishing the warm water as it cools). Place one wrapper in warm water and let sit for 1 minute. When soft, lay wrapper flat on a dish towel. Place 1 butter lettuce leaf in the center followed by ~2 tablespoons noodles, 1 slice mango, 1 slice avocado, 1 strip bell pepper, 2 shrimp, 1 teaspoon peanuts, 1 teaspoon scallions, and 2 leaves each of basil, mint, and cilantro. Fold the left and right sides of the wrapper toward the center over the ingredients. Then fold the bottom side of the wrapper up over the center. Using your fingers to hold the ingredients in place, start to roll up from the bottom, making sure the sides stay folded in and the ingredients aren't pushed out the top. Continue to roll until you have reached the top and the 'package' is complete

Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca

It happened! We won a recipe contest! Well, sorta. We won first place in the main dish category (there were five categories), but we didn't land the big, glorious grand prize trip to Italy complete with a truffle hunt and helicopter tour of the countryside. Super sad face. But I'd probably be more disappointed about missing out on the grand prize if it wasn't our first ever recipe contest victory! Hurray for us! I honestly felt like we missed the boat on this one; while the recipe is delicious and the image is impressive, I wasn't sure it was creative or unique enough to beat out all the other great entries. But, I'm glad I was proven wrong because we now we have a KitchenAid stand mixer in "shimmering champagne gold" on the way and a years supply of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to boot. I'm already brainstorming what I can whip up in that mixer and Noah is has made a list of what kind of attachments we "need". My vote is for the grain mill so we can make our own flours (for pasta!) and maybe the meat grinder/sausage stuffer so we can experiment with homemade meaty things. Mmmmmm... I've decided that I need to figure out how to make a living as a full time recipe developer because as you may have noticed I spend the majority of the day dreaming up recipe ideas. My bookcase is 90% filled with cookbooks and bon appetit magazines and our pantry/fridge looks far more like a commercial kitchen (read: containers full of experiments and sauces) than a "normal" person's pantry/fridge. The idea of waking up in the morning and drinking a cup of coffee while planning out which recipes I want to work on that day is simply glorious... Or which recipe contests I want to enter.... Or which blog post I need to write... Someday soon I hope. Ok, enough chitchat, I'm sure you're all dying to know what the winning dish is. So, without further ado, the victorious recipe!!

//Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca// Serves 4-6
I used heirloom tomatoes here and they were so delicious - sweet, juicy, and beautifully colored. If heirlooms are not available, any firm tomato will do, really. Try to choose locally grown, though, because if they travel up from Mexico they're likely to be bland and lackluster. This would also make a great vegetarian dish minus the shrimp and bacon. Instead, try tempeh or throw in some white beans for a bit of protein. 

½ lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chives or green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon for sautéing

Pasta Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium shallots or 3 small yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs tomatoes, diced
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons capers
1/3 cup nicoise (black) olives + 1 tablespoon olive brine
½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1 ½ tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme or 1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
16 oz linguini or spaghetti noodles
1 tablespoon salt
drizzle of olive oil
1/3 pound bacon, cooked until crispy, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan

1. Place the shrimp, 2 cloves of minced garlic, lemon juice, chives, and 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small bowl and let marinate for 20-30 minutes

2. To make the puttanesca sauce, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes

3. Add tomatoes to onions and continue to cook over low-medium heat until tomatoes start to break down and juices are released, about 5 minutes

4. Add the white wine, capers, olives, brine, artichoke hearts, fresh or dried herbs, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Turn heat to low and simmer until sauce is reduced and thick, about 15-20 minutes (maybe more depending on how juicy your tomatoes are)

5. While the sauce is simmering, prepare the shrimp. Gently heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat, then add the shrimp and marinade. Cook for 1 minute on each side or until the shrimp are bright red and the tails have curled in. Turn off heat and add shrimp plus juices to the pasta sauce

6. To cook the pasta, bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and drizzle of olive oil. Cook the noodles until al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Drain.

7. Serve pasta and sauce topped with chopped bacon and parmesan. Enjoy!