A bag of large-sized shrimp in the freezer and this recipe for North African Spiced Shrimp adapted from "Olives & Oranges," by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox, combine to make a quick-to-fix dinner.

A bag of large-sized shrimp in the freezer is like a helping hand. It’s a great backup for those nights when you just can’t make it to the store to pick up dinner.

The shrimp thaws quickly in a bowl of cold water. And with a bit of seasoning and a quick saute, it’s versatile enough to go over rice, pasta or, in this case, couscous, to make a filling entree.

Tips:

Double or triple the spice amounts so you have extra to store in a jar; this seasoning mix goes well with poultry too.

Look for shrimp that is already deveined to save time.

Beverage:

Beer would be a good match for the spicy shrimp, or try an Alsatian riesling.

NORTH AFRICAN SPICED SHRIMP

Makes 6 servings

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1-2 dried red chili peppers, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled

Juice of 1 large lime

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1. Mix coriander, Aleppo pepper, cumin, ginger and turmeric in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil; stir to combine. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Marinate 15 minutes, or in refrigerator 4-6 hours.

2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat; add shrimp in batches, discarding marinade. Cook until browned and opaque throughout, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked shrimp to a large bowl. Toss with lime juice; season with salt.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 166 calories, 37 percent of calories from fat, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 224 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 343 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

Adapted from “Olives & Oranges,” by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox.

Serve over couscous, rice or pasta. Aleppo pepper is a Turkish crushed, dried pepper; look for it at spice stores or in spice catalogs, such as Penzeys Spices (penzeys.com).

(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.