PA Eating: Crazy-Good Grill-Out

There are some foods that cause rifts between even the closest of hearts. Foods like mushrooms, olives, capers, and even celery can bring an otherwise lovely dinner to the brink of disaster.

For me, that thing is cilantro. But my reaction is more complicated than I hate cilantro! – and I don’t have that genetic ‘cilantro tastes like dishwater’ thing. My problem: I only like cilantro in Asian-inspired food. Just one leaf in something Mexican, and I’m scrubbing my tongue with a napkin. But cilantro chopped and blended with coconut milk or thrown into  a marinade with lime juice? Sign me up!

My parents? They like the stuff by the bushel-full… which is why my dad had to make three batches of guacamole: one with no cilantro (me), one with no jalapeno (my niece), and one fully-loaded (for Mom and Dad). People and their preferences are endlessly fascinating, aren’t they?!

Anyway. One night, we built a dinner around a green bean recipe that, yes, can include cilantro… but also coconut milk, almonds, and cumin. You will fall madly in love with Coconut-Almond Green Beans — and you don’t want to miss the Ginger-Lime Shrimp, either.

Ginger-Lime Grilled Shrimp

Makes enough for approximately 2 pounds of seafood

  • juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 teaspoons freshly-grated ginger (about a 2-inch piece)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1-2 pounds large shrimp


In a small bowl, squeeze to extract the juice, then add the red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, salt, black pepper, and cilantro. Mix well with a fork, then drizzle in the oil, stirring constantly.


With a small, sharp knife, pierce the shrimp at the head end and carefully cut along the back toward the tail, removing the dark vein. Rinse in running water. Pat dry, then place the shrimp in a medium bowl and mix with the marinade. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 20 minutes.


Preheat the gas grill on high heat with the lid closed, about 10 minutes. Thread the shrimp on skewers, leaving a little room between them so they don’t steam. Grill 2-3 minutes per side with the lid closed.

Coconut-Almond Green Beans

The leftovers, should there be any, are delicious mixed with cooked protein and stir-fried ’til hot.

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

  • 1/2 medium  onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced (2 tablespoons) (optional)


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them; they brown quickly! Transfer almonds to a plate for later. Resist the temptation to eat them!


In the same pan, sauté the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until the onion is soft and beginning to get brown bits, about 4-5 minutes.


Add the coconut milk to the pan and mix well, then add the green beans. Make sure everything is blended, then bring the pan to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook covered until the beans are tender. The cooking time is a judgment call. If you like them crisp, it’s about 6 minutes. If you like them softer, let them braise for about 8 minutes.


When the beans have reached the desired tenderness, remove the lid and let the sauce cook down until it thickens a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the almonds, lime juice, and cilantro (if using).

Are you a cilantro hater? Leave the cilantro out of the last step… and  check out this ‘I hate cilantro’ haiku… and more cilantro-hating fun.

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