Once upon a time, most Americans considered garlic repulsive and eating it barbaric. We also thought butter was great and that we could not overdo using it. That time, when today's equivalent of foodies were called "gourmet cooks," was not so long ago.

Garlic-loving gourmets in those days signaled devotion to the "stinking rose," a nickname we thought was clever, by serving chicken with forty cloves of garlic, a recipe we discovered in the New York Times, and rubbing the inside of a wooden salad bowl with a cut clove of garlic before tossing in the greens and croutons sauteed in garlicky butter.

Back then, at Italian restaurants where table clothes really were red-and-white checked, and candles burned and cascaded their wax down straw-covered Chianti bottles, we indulged in garlic bread drenched in butter after reaching agreement with a date or friends to indulge collectively so that no one would be offended by garlic breath. In those days, we had no idea that garlic had blood thinning benefits or could help reduce our risk of cancer.

Today, we celebrate garlic combined with olive oil, not butter for both its flavor and healthfulness and attend local garlic festivals, especially the most famous one that takes place each August in California. But, you don't have to wait for summer to celebrate this wonderful bulb.

Scampi, one of the best ways to enjoy garlic, also has a national day devoted to it, on April 19. Traditionally made with butter, I use olive oil instead, plus a little garlic, and serve it with spinach. Although I keep this quick saute lean, I do add a bit of butter with the broth, which also gets infused with garlic flavor.

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Good scampi needs something to soak up the great sauce. Instead of the garlic bread we once used, cooked brown rice does this nicely and more healthfully.

Scampi with Spinach

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, divided
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • One package (6 oz.) baby spinach, rinsed and shaken almost dry
  • 1 lb. large shrimp (25-30), peeled and deveined
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp. butter

Directions

  1. In a measuring cup, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of the garlic and the red pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach with some water still clinging to it. Mix in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spinach is just tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a bowl. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
  3. Return the pan to medium heat. Add the butter and remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add the shrimp in one layer and cook 2 minutes. Turn and cook 2 minutes. Pour in the broth mixture and cook until the shrimp are white in the center, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To serve, make a bed using 3/4 cup of the rice in the center of each of four dinner plates. Mound one fourth of the spinach in the center of the rice. Arrange one-quarter of the shrimp around the spinach. Spoon some of the pan sauce over the shrimp. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
285 calories
9 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat)
28 g. carbohydrate
23 g. protein
4 g. dietary fiber
300 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges:
3-1/2 Low-Fat Meat, 1-1/2 Bread/Starch, 1 Vegetable


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