Whoa. What a week—and it’s only Wednesday. So, this whole taking-my-baby-to-preschool situation has really taken it out of me. Anxiety. Gloomy weather. In July. In LA. Earthquake. I’m sorry, but I’ve been kind of down. Tiny G, on the other hand, is up up up. He ate his first sandwich today in preschool. It was pretty damned cute. To that end, I’d like to turn my frown upside down and share a sunny dinner we enjoyed a couple of weeks ago with our dear friend Darris. (For days after said dinner, Tiny G was asking “Where Dis? Where Dis?”) I wish I could deliver Darris and his conversation to your dinner table should your day need brightening, but in lieu, here is the next best thing.
The rosemary skewers, which are easy to make, impart an herbal fragrance to the shrimp, and they look both rustic and elegant at the same time. Alla romagnola means that these spiedini are a specialty of Romagna, the eastern part of the region Emilia-Romagna.—Mario Batali, Italian Grill
[FOODINISTA NOTE: THIS RECIPE AS WRITTEN BELOW MAKES ABOUT TWICE AS MUCH BREAD CRUMB/HERB MIXTURE AS YOU NEED]
1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only (about 2 cups loosely packed)
1 bunch basil, leaves only (about 2 cups packed)
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt [need to check this amount again]
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large shrimp (21–30 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 lemons, cut into wedges
12 large rosemary sprigs, prepared as skewers (see BELOW NOTE) and soaked in water for at least 2 hours, or overnight
Toss the parsley and basil leaves into a food processor, add the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup of the olive oil, and zap until the herbs are chopped and the bread crumbs look green.
Transfer to a pie plate or wide shallow bowl, add the shrimp, and toss to coat well. [FOODINISTA NOTE: I TOSSED IN A PYREX BAKING DISH]
Skewer 4 or 5 shrimp on each rosemary sprig (the easiest way to do this is line up 4 or 5 shrimp—“spoon fashion”—at a time on a work surface and run a skewer through them; then separate them slightly so they will cook evenly). Dredge on both sides in the bread crumb mixure, place on a platter, and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. [HERE IS MR FOODINISTA SHOWING US HOW IT'S DONE:]
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Put a piastra (FOODINISTA NOTE: OR GRIDDLE) on the grill to preheat.
Spritz or brush the piastra with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place the skewers on the piastra and cook, turning once, just until the shrimp are opaque throughout and some of the crumbs are browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the lemon wedges.
Rosemary Skewers It’s easy to make skewers from rosemary sprigs. Choose large sturdy sprigs that are about 8 inches long. Pull off most of the leaves from each sprig, leaving a nice tuft of leaves at the top (use the remaining leaves in the dish you are making, or reserve for another use). Using a sharp knife, cut off the bottom of the sprig on a diagonal to give you a sharp point. The skewer will slide easily through the shrimp when you skewer them.