Easy Shrimp Scampi and a Food Court

The food court at the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney is perhaps the wildest food court I’ve ever visited. I mean that in the best way possible. The walls are a shiny black granite-like material, making you feel like you’ve landed somewhere glamorous. It also makes it seem like the food court is endless, which in some respects it is. Check out the ice cream sundaes and smoothie station below:

Concerning the shrimp, I trekked down to the major supermarket about a mile away just to buy frozen shrimp. Call me crazy, but it was the best decision. Not only did I get shrimp, but I also purchased some yummy quinoa flakes.

As a student who occasionally (i.e. most of the time) wants a fast meal and one that requires little cleaning, I loved this lightened shrimp scampi dish. The best part about this recipe? It’s made using just a microwave. I served it with brown rice because I didn’t have pasta around. I also added more baby spinach than the recipe called for. The shrimp I purchased were smaller than I imagined, but at least they were cooked, peeled and deveined. On a different note, all shrimp in Australia are called prawns, despite the distinction between the two fish.

Microwave Shrimp Scampi

Serves 1

12 small-medium frozen shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup spinach leaves, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 lemon, juice

salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a large microwaveable bowl. Toss to coat shrimp. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove and mix again. Microwave for another 1 minute 15 seconds. Serve over pasta or, as I did, rice.

The picture does not do this dish justice, but believe me, it’s delicious, quick, easy, and oven-less.

Couscous Therapy

I remember vaguely the first time I ate couscous. I was about nine years old, at an African restaurant in Paris. It involved a lot of eating with your hands. Aside from that, the only part I remember is that my mother got food poisoning.

Subconsciously, I believe this left a negative association on me towards couscous for many years. But don’t be too concerned, I have been rehabilitated to savor the taste of the delicious grain.

The most common types of couscous are Moroccan and Israeli, Moroccan being the smaller of the two grains. Israeli couscous can take longer to cook, but it holds sauces better and makes great leftovers that are not soggy. Seeing as leftovers are the basis of my sustenance at school, I figured I’d try out an Israeli Couscous and Chickpea Salad.

I always am shocked when I make something edible. I make enough mistakes in the kitchen, whether it be that time in 3rd grade when I forgot vanilla extract in my cookies, or when I set up a milkshake stand on the side of the road, selling watered down ice cream slush. Once I made homemade pudding with cinnamon and spices that tasted like lawnmower clippings. And so I am amazed every time when a dish is, well, good.

This dish is simple, easy, and once again, oven-free. I’m looking forward to the leftovers tremendously, particularly after the flavors of feta, tomatoes, basil and citrus saturate overnight.

Israeli Couscous and Chickpea Salad

Makes a lot

3 cups couscous

1/2 a basket of cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 medium cucumber, peeled, quartered

1 can cooked chickpeas

1 lemon, cut in half

1 lime, cut in half

extra-virgin olive oil

salt, to taste

ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup basil, chopped

1/3 cup feta


Cook couscous according to package directions. Toss with tomatoes, cucumbers, and chickpeas in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon and lime into the bowl. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (I added more salt at the end, too.) Mix in chopped basil and feta.

Peanut Noodle Bowl

I left the United States for Australia with the presumption that I wouldn’t see peanut butter, and instead only Vegemite for five months. And so, I stuffed my face with creamy Jif in preparation for peanut butter withdrawal. Peanut butter on rice cakes, peanut butter with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter by the spoonful. You name it.

Much to my surprise, I found the supermarkets stocked with peanut butter (even crunchy!). I bought a jar and at the end of a long day, I prepared this super fast, filling and delicious meal. It could have used more vegetables or sources of protein, but some nights I just want a bowl of carbohydrates. I also forgot to buy peanuts to garnish the dish. A little crunch would be looked favorably upon. Did I mention it doesn’t require an oven or a stove?

Peanut Noodle Bowl

2 servings of rice noodles (cooked as directed on package)

2 tbs Peanut Butter (plus more if you’re a PB aficionado like me)

zest and juice 1 lime

2 tbs hot water

2 tsp soy sauce

1/4 cup scallions, chopped


Whisk peanut butter, hot water, soy sauce, scallions and half of the lime juice and zest. Add cooked noodles to mixture. Toss well. Garnish with more scallions and spritz with remaining lime juice.