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Recipe: Fennel Seed and Thyme-Crusted Grilled Shrimp fast, flavorful on the grill

Grilling generally is a healthy cooking method because little or no fat is needed. But the intense, dry heat can quickly turn food tough and leathery, especially if you start with something lean.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pork and beef tenderloin, as well as most white fish and shellfish, are healthy choices because they are all low in fat.

That also means they usually are low in flavor and moisture, too.

For these leaner proteins be sure to season assertively using marinades and rubs, plus keep an eye on the grill to avoid overcooking. And be sure to season with salt only just before grilling, as salt can draw moisture out of the meat.

As for the grilling itself, it's all about timing.

Boneless, skinless chicken and turkey breasts are best grilled quickly, over medium-high heat. Also, don't use a fork to turn your poultry or you'll just end up losing valuable moisture when you pierce the surface.

Grill chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side and turkey breasts for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Grill whole pork tenderloins over medium-high until they reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees. The temperature will rise to the recommended 160 degrees if you let the pork sit for 5 minutes off the grill before slicing.

To keep lean cuts of beef, such as tenderloin and round steak, from drying out, it's best to grill them over medium-high heat to a doneness of not much more than medium-rare.

Unless you are grilling oily varieties of fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout, most lighter-fleshed fish and shellfish should cook for just a few minutes per side over medium-high heat.

This recipe for fennel seed and thyme-crusted grilled shrimp uses an aromatic spice blend to create a flavorful crust. Cook the shrimp until they are just opaque, no more than 2 minutes per side.

To complete the meal, add a spicy arugula salad and some wedges of olive oil-misted grilled flatbread, which can easily be made using store-bought whole-wheat pizza dough.

fennel seed and thyme-crusted grillEd shrimp

Start to finish: 20 minutes Servings: 4

1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 teaspoon salt

Lemon wedges, for serving

In a shallow dish, cover eight 10-inch bamboo skewers with water and set aside to soak.

In a small bowl, combine the fennel seeds, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, pepper and oil. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.

Heat a gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal grill.

Divide the shrimp among the skewers, threading them through the sides. Season with salt. Grill until the shrimp are golden brown on both sides and opaque at the center, about 2 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 159 calories; 50 calories from fat; 6g fat (1g saturated; 0g trans fats); 172mg cholesterol; 3g carbohydrate; 23g protein; 1g fiber; 460mg sodium.

Recipe: Fennel Seed and Thyme-Crusted Grilled Shrimp fast, flavorful on the grill 05/22/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 22, 2009 4:30am]
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