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A Recipe for Perfect Broiled Shrimp Every Time



Some sheet-pan meals are so simple you could almost cook them in your sleep. Throw some chicken legs and sturdy root vegetables on a pan, sprinkle with salt and maybe herbs or spices, then drizzle with oil and stick it all in a hot oven. About 40 minutes later, the dark meat is reliably juicy, the vegetables golden and bathed in rendered chicken fat, and both take about the same amount of time. It’s an adaptable meal that would be hard to get wrong.

Others take more finesse. This combination of shrimp and zucchini is one of them.

I could just picture it, a pan full of golden-edged, green-skinned zucchini dotted with crescents of tender, coral-hued shrimp and seasoned liberally with za’atar and lemon zest. A garlicky, creamy yogurt sauce spiked with even more za’atar would add a tangy, zippy flourish right at the end.

But first, I had to work out the timing of shellfish versus the vegetables.

The sticking point is that, unlike forgiving chicken legs and roots, which have a relatively wide window of doneness, shrimp and zucchini can be finicky. Leave shrimp in the oven for even a minute too long, and they will go from succulent and plump to rubber ball bouncy. Zucchini, on the other hand, with its high moisture content, needs plenty of roasting time for the juices to condense, then caramelize. How to get them to cook on the same sheet pan in the easiest possible way?

In my first round of testing, I started with the zucchini in the oven, letting it roast until sufficiently browned, which takes about 35 minutes. Then, I added the shrimp for another couple of minutes. This worked pretty well, but not consistently enough. Sometimes the shrimp at the edges of the pan had curled and toughened by the time the ones in the middle cooked through.

Switching to the broiler after adding the shrimp made all the difference. The heat from above seared them quickly and evenly until they were all perfectly cooked, and it also amped up the golden color of the zucchini, making it richer and more intense. It was well worth the extra step.

Although this recipe does involve more moves than, say, sleepwalk chicken and vegetables, it’s still blissfully easy. And those few moments of paying attention are amply rewarded with a delightful meal to satisfy your sheet-pan dinner dreams.

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