Something’s fishy …

I received an e-mail in April from a local grocery store chef. He was having a recipe contest at the store and asked if I’d like to be a judge. Food judging is perhaps my favorite perk of my job, so I wrote back “Yes!” and marked the date on my calendar.

A couple of weeks later, he sent out a reminder e-mail and mentioned that the contest is a seafood recipe contest.


I do not consider myself a seafood fan. I’m not adamant in my dislike for fish, lobster, etc., but I rarely order it in restaurants and never cook it. My husband and kids are Catholic, so we do a lot of breakfast-for-dinner on Friday nights during Lent. I didn’t back out on judging, though. I made a commitment and I was going to stick to it. Plus, I didn’t want to admit I didn’t like seafood.

It turns out my aversion is exactly why the chef wanted to have this contest. He loves seafood and has found others in the Midwest tend to shy away from it because it isn’t something we’re regularly exposed to. I nodded sagely as he told me this while three home cooks were making their recipes, scared to tell him I’m one of those people.

I confessed by the end of the evening, though. Every dish I tried that night was amazing! Within bites, I went from not liking seafood to looking up scallop recipes online. My family even bought me an electric fryer for Mother’s Day so I can make battered shrimp.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it for supper last week. It not only tastes great and it healthy, it can be made in less than 30 minutes. It’s the trifecta of winning.


  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 10 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I bought frozen heat-and-serve shrimp. It’s smaller, but I didn’t want to mess up my first shrimp-cooking experience.)
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook penne according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.

Add in mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to release their water.

Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes.

Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the penne, Greek yogurt and pasta sauce. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated. Heat until just warmed through. Divide into pasta bowls and serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Recipe courtesy of: