« Artificial sweetener (Recipe: sugar-free Colombian cocoa muffins) | Main | Fresh pizza dough (Recipe: Charlotte's sausage bread) »

Frozen shrimp (Recipe: black bean and shrimp quesadillas)

Black bean and shrimp quesadillas

One handy thing to know about frozen shrimp:

Most of the time, frozen shrimp is more fresh than the shrimp that looks fresh, sitting on ice in a glass case in your local seafood market (gasp). It's true. Nearly all the shrimp we buy (except for those very lucky souls who live in Maine or along the Gulf) is cleaned and frozen on the boats. Fresh shrimp has a very short shelf-life. In the fish market -- again, unless you are very lucky and live in fresh shrimp country -- the "fresh" shrimp is frozen shrimp that has been defrosted. When, exactly, was it defrosted? Today? Yesterday? Think about it; with shrimp in your freezer, you can defrost it minutes before you cook it. No more waterlogged shrimp.

Cooking or baking?

In the freezer, for up to nine months. Frozen shrimp have the added advantage of being marked by size; the number (21-25, 31-40, etc.) indicates the number of shrimp per pound.

Pantry ingredients in this recipe:
Frozen shrimp (facts and ingredient photos)
Black beans
Grated or shredded cheese

Black bean and shrimp quesadillas

Black bean and shrimp quesadillas

Most of the time, I make quesadillas with super-low-carb oat bran tortillas, but when I saw these habanero-lime tortillas at Trader Joe's, I knew instantly that I had to fill them with black beans. It's the Halloween influence, I know! I continued the Tex-Mex theme with some store-bought reduced-fat Mexican shredded cheese blend, and some large shrimp from the freezer. If you're looking for the salsa, it's inside the quesadilla. Proportions aren't terribly important, and you can make these with any type of tortilla. And no, you do not need to oil the tortillas or the pan. Serves 2.


6 large (21-25 size) shrimp, defrosted
2 large (10-inch) tortillas, any flavor (I used spicy habanero-lime)
1/2 cup grated or shredded cheese, loosely packed (I use reduced-fat Mexican blend; Monterey Jack would be great, too)
1/4 cup cooked black beans (or canned beans, rinsed and drained)
2-3 Tbsp store-bought or homemade peach salsa


Place the shrimp in a glass or ceramic bowl, and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. When they're cool enough to handle, peel, devein, and slice the shrimp in half through the slit in the back, to make two thin shrimp-shaped halves out of each shrimp.

Preheat a griddle, frying pan, or grill over low-medium heat.

Assemble your quesadilla: place one tortilla on the countertop. Spread half of the cheese, leaving half an inch border around the edge of the tortilla. Sprinkle the black beans here and there. Place the shrimp artfully around. Drizzle the salsa over everything. Top with the remaining cheese, and the other tortilla. Press down slightly to distribute the filling as evenly as possible.

Carefully transfer the quesadilla to the cooking surface. Cook until the bottom tortilla is lightly browned; if you lift the edge of the top tortilla, you should see melted cheese on the bottom. With a large spatula, flip the quesadilla, and cook on the second side until the tortilla is lightly browned.

Set the quesadilla on a cutting board, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Don't skip this step. With a large serrated knife, slice the quesadilla into six pieces. Serve warm.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Blazing hot shrimp
Rice stick noodle salad with caramelized shrimp
Shrimp lo mein
Risotto with shrimp and asparagus
Baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta

Other recipes that use frozen shrimp:
Shrimp and artichoke pasta, from Simply Recipes
Garlic and rosemary roasted shrimp skewers with fuyu persimmon, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Jambalaya with shrimp, chicken, andouille, and ham, from Andrea Meyers
Garlicky shrimp and spinach bake, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Shrimp pasta in a foil package, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Wow - these do look festive, and yummy! And who knew you could microwave shrimp? Here' I've been struggling with pan frying, when this is so much better. I've got the frozen shrimp, and I've got the black beans - now I just need to find those beautiful tortillas!

Two of my dad's very favorite ingredients. I'm realizing that if I bought an electric frying pan to keep at his apartment, I could make this kind of thing for him. In the meantime, I can make it for myself with my beloved Joseph's low-carb tortillas!

Frozen Shrimp are the "belle" of the freezer. I pick up 1lb bags of medium size shrimp when on sale ($7-$10)and use them for last min fancy appetizers, last minute fancy meals or sometimes just unplanned Tuesday night dinner.
And when used on top of a salad or lots of other veggies on the grill or in recipes like above - they are very economical!

TW, you can microwave shrimp. The trick is to go very slowly, 15 seconds at a time, and stop just at the point when they are pink. And for the tortillas, get thee to Trader Joe's!

Kalyn, that's a great idea. You know I'm partial to the Joseph's tortillas, but every now and then, a girl's gotta splurge.

Carol, isn't it amazing how a few shrimp can dress up almost any dish? That's certainly the case with these quesadillas.

Don't forget those lucky enough to live along the South Carolina coast and can get fresh
shrimp off the boats!

First, I like the insight on the frozen shrimp - it's something I'd heard before but never really taken to heart. It makes perfect sense, though.

And second, wow. Those look absolutely outstanding, and I think they deserve a trial spot on the home rotation!

Don't forget those of us who live in Hawaii have fresh shrimp farms to purchase our shrimp from. North Shore of Oahu is loaded with farms and Kauai is famous for their head-on whole farm raised shrimp and prawns. Hawaii aquaculture farming is the only state that commercially farms egg to plate abalone and sashimi-grade Kona Kampachi (yellowtail Tuna) along with shrimp (national brood stock for mainland), crawfish, oysters and clams and they are experimenting with growing lobsters at the lobster hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.