Shrimp & Couscous in White Wine Sauce

Last night I wanted to make a nice meal, but I didn’t feel like going to the store, and I hadn’t been food shopping in quite a while. You know how it goes – the busy days fly by and you find yourself running to the little market nearby for just a pint of half & half, or just a loaf of bread, to tide you over. And later that week, it’s time for dinner and there’s nothing to eat. Here’s what I made last night in that exact situation, pulling it all from the freezer and the pantry: Shrimp & Couscous in White Wine Sauce.

When I’m feeling productive and do the big food shopping trip, I store up on some of these ingredients in anticipation for nights like these (artichoke hearts in a can, frozen cooked shrimp, couscous). And there’s always a bottle of wine I can grab for the dish – my favorites are those smaller four-packs, the perfect size for cooking & there’s no waste.

Shrimp & Couscous in White Wine Sauce
Servings: 2 adults
Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
* 5 tablespoons of butter or margarine
* Half an onion, chopped
* 3/4 cup water
* 1 cup white wine, like Chardonnay
* 1 cup dried couscous
* 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts (in water), quartered
* 2 tablespoons small capers
* 10 frozen cooked jumbo shrimp – thawed
* 1 tablespoon Wondra or cornstarch/flour for thickening
* Salt & pepper
* Garlic powder

Directions:
* In a saute pan over Medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of the butter, add chopped onions and saute until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
* Meanwhile, pour the water and 1/4 cup of the white wine into a small sauce pan. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, throw in the dried couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.
* When the onions are done, mix them into the couscous with a fork, fluffing up the couscous as you do this. Keep covered until you are ready to serve. Taste for salt & pepper, season as needed.
* In a large saute pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter over Medium-High heat, add remaining white wine, artichokes and capers and mix together. Throw in the thawed cooked shrimp, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder then sprinkle Wondra or thickening agent over it all, giving it a good mix. Sauce should bubble and become slightly thick as the shrimp heats through and the dish’s flavor come together.
* To serve, place a large spoonful of couscous on the plate, cover with the shrimp & artichokes, then drizzle remaining pan sauce over each plate. If you have it handy, garnish with fresh minced parsley (as you can see, I did not have that last night but it would have added a certain brightness to the dish).

This is a “use what you’ve got” type of dish, so here are some alternatives: Instead of Chardonnay, you can use Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis or any dry white wine. If you don’t like artichokes, leave them out and use some water chestnuts for that textural crunch. No capers in the house? Use a splash of lemon juice instead to give it a bit of citrusy kick. If you have the time and would like to add one clove of real minced garlic or a smidge of garlic paste, go right ahead! And what if your shrimp isn’t jumbo and/or cooked? Then throw in a few more pieces to make the dish hearty and if raw, cook a little longer in the sauce til pink. This is easily adaptable, have fun with it!

Other shrimp & couscous dishes out there that you might like:
Shrimp & Feta Couscous
Shrimp Scampi with Pesto Couscous
Shrimp & Couscous Paella

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