Sandwich #24–“Meh, It’s Food” Shrimp, Avocado, and Couscous Pita Pocket

By 300 Sandwiches

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We had to leave our comfy Brooklyn confines to go to a friend’s party in Soho. After a full Saturday afternoon of cleaning house, I struggled to get off of the couch.

A few hours before party time, E whipped up a steak tartare topped with a quail egg yolk (for some, steak tartare is a delicacy. For E, it’s a Scooby snack). That combined the two things I’m averse to–runny egg and undercooked meat. But for E, for LOVE, somehow I got a fair portion of it down. “Aww, honey. Proud of you,” he said.

Despite the snack, I felt we should have something in our bellies before we left for the party besides raw meat. Still, I wasn’t motivated to make anything complicated. The couch was just too darn relaxing.

A three minute web browsing session unearthed this shrimp and couscous pita pocket recipe that we had just about all of the ingredients for. The recipe called for spinach, but I had to omit that because it’s on E’s list of forbidden veggies. I also forgot to include the jalapeño the recipe called for.

Not only was I too lazy to find a recipe for which I’d have to buy groceries, I was too lazy to follow the directions exactly. There was something about foil pockets mentioned, but I figured as long as I made the couscous per the instructions on the box, cooked the shrimp and mixed the cold veggies together it would be fine to combine those ingredients into the pitas and call it dinner. Instead, the sandwich tasted like I threw together whatever was available in our fridge–fresh or not so fresh.

I asked E how it was. “It’s food,” he replied. Which meant it was nowhere near as good as his steak tartare.

He was right. The pita tasted like cardboard, the raggedy arugula tasted like weeds. The mango and tomato weren’t juicy, and the avocado and couscous just made the whole thing mushy and mealy. And the shrimp, well, I might as well have gone fishing in the East River and pulled out whatever mercury-laden mutated fish I found to cook instead. It would have had more flavor.

It’s typical that E’s raw meat on a plate topped with a raw egg was more delicious than my half cooked, half-assed sandwich. Perhaps I should have just stayed on the couch.

Vegetable oil cooking spray
8 cups baby spinach
1 cup couscous
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 medium avocado, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Heat grill. Fold four 18-inch-long pieces of foil in half; unfold and coat inside with cooking spray. Place 2 cups spinach in center of 1 half of each piece of foil. Combine couscous with 1/4 cup water; divide evenly among packets, placing on top of spinach. Combine shrimp, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl. Divide shrimp evenly among packets, placing next to couscous. Fold foil to close and crimp edges to seal; place on grill; close lid; cook until packets are fully puffed, 10 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 cup cilantro with remaining 1/4 tsp salt, mango, avocado, tomato, onion, jalapeño and lime juice in a bowl. Carefully cut foil to open; stir contents; garnish with salsa before serving.

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