Shrimp paired with pineapple brings elegance, sweetness

Shrimp pineapple brochettes uses easy pantry ingredients - you can even use canned pineapple - to create something that still feels high-end.

I pulled out an easy recipe that uses pantry ingredients that I keep on hand. One of my favorite items to keep in the freezer is frozen shrimp.

I keep both cooked and uncooked versions. Raw shrimp cook up in minutes and have more flavor, so I use them for pasta dishes and easy sheet-pan suppers. But cooked shrimp have their place on my menu, too. I love how quickly they thaw for salads and appetizers, and other cold preparations.

The downside to pre-cooked shrimp is the texture is a notch softer. My solution is to buy the large shrimp and then cut it in half. I know this may be counter-shrimp culture, so feel free to leave them large, but the solution works for us.

A super easy go-to recipe for shrimp for us is my Shrimp Pineapple Brochettes, which uses easy pantry ingredients — you can even use canned pineapple — to create something that still feels high-end.

It's healthy and versatile, working as either a meal when paired with some greens, a first course, or even an appetizer for parties. Shrimp brings protein and elegance, while pineapple balances out with both sweetness and acid. I use prepared pesto for some fat and flavor, and I highly recommend keeping a jar of prepared pesto in the freezer to scoop out for recipes. But, if you don't have any, just substitute a bunch of chopped herbs, olive oil and lemon juice for an easy, tasty version. And with skewers, I think it goes without saying that you can swap in whatever fruit you have in your kitchen — grapes, grapefruit, orange segments and even canned mango all work beautifully.

Shrimp and pineapple brochettes

Servings: 4

Start to finish: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound large cooked shrimp, cleaned, thawed if frozen

1 cup pineapple cubes, about 1/2-inch each, drained and halved if using typical large canned chunks (grapefruit or orange may be used)

1 tablespoon prepared pesto sauce

1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper

A pinch (1/8 teaspoon) kosher salt

Chopped fresh mint, parsley or basil, optional

12 small or 8 large skewers, or 24 toothpicks if making appetizer bites

DIRECTIONS:

Cut shrimp into halves or thirds, depending on size of shrimp. Thread the skewers with alternating shrimp and fruit. Lay the skewers on a platter.

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice to the pesto sauce to thin it and stir. Drizzle the pesto mixture over the skewers, aiming mostly for the shrimp. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil onto the skewers. Top with freshly ground black pepper, the kosher salt and chopped herbs, if desired. Serve as a first course, an appetizer, or with a green salad for a light meal.

Nutrition information per serving: 130; 35 calories from fat; 4 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 145 mg cholesterol; 720 mg sodium; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 16 g protein.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy."     Online: http://www.melissadarabian.net.