A Great Opener for July 4th Celebrations!

Although parades, band concerts, and fireworks all define July 4th, it’s the food that many of us anticipate most. Whether special burgers, smoked ribs, barbecued chicken, corn on the cob slathered with seasoned butter, spicy baked beans, or fresh strawberry shortcakes, a big spread is the way everyone loves to celebrate America’s birthday. Typically, cooks focus on the entrees, sides, and sweets, but starters are important too. You don’t have to resort to a bowl of chips served with a purchased dip when you can make Grilled Shrimp with Cumin Mayo in only a matter of minutes.

For this delectable appetizer, extra large shrimp are marinated in lime juice and olive oil along with garlic and red pepper flakes. Then they are skewered and set atop the grill where they quickly curl up and turn bright pink. The cumin mayo, adapted from a recipe in my Big Book ofBackyard Cooking, is prepared with purchased mayonnaise, fresh lime juice, toasted cumin, and cilantro, and makes a vibrant dipping sauce for the shellfish. Add this dish to your holiday menu, and in no time at all you’ll have a mouthwatering opener for your July 4th feast!
Grilled Shrimp with Cumin Mayo
(This recipe serves 4 generously but can be doubled or tripled easily)
Cumin Mayo
4 teaspoons cumin seeds or 4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup regular or reduced fat (not nonfat) mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
16 extra large shrimp (15 to 20 per pound count), peeled but with tails left on and deveined
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lime cut into 6 wedges for garnish
Eight 6-inch or longer wooden skewers (soaked in water 30 minutes before using.)
1. For the mayonnaise, set a small skillet over medium heat and when hot, add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Then place the seeds in a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle and grind them finely. If using ground cumin, place it in pan and stir constantly 1 minute to develop the flavor of the spice.
2. In a nonreactive bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, and toasted cumin. Cover and refrigerate. (The mayonnaise can be prepared 2 hours ahead.) Makes about 1 cup.
3. Place shrimp in a nonreactive shallow dish or pan. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice and zest, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil, then pour mixture over the shrimp, and marinate, at cool room temperature, turning several times, 45 minutes.
4. Oil a grill rack and arrange it 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a hot fire (high temperature). Skewer 2 shrimp on each skewer. When grill is ready, grill shrimp until they turn pink and are curled, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcook, or shrimp will become tough.
5. Arrange the bowl of cumin mayo on a serving platter and surround with skewered  shrimp. Garnish with lime wedges. Squeeze some lime juice over the grilled shrimp. Serves 4 as an appetizer.

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