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Taste sunshine in pineapple ceviche

As temperatures cool this week, a taste of sunshine can be had from supermarkets stocking fresh pineapple.

The tropical fruit is enjoying its peak season, on which I capitalized this week by purchasing three whole pineapples to use in a variety of ways. The first was for breakfast, highlighted in this blog’s previous post.

Another way to use pineapple, which many cooks don’t consider, is as a serving vessel. I tried this technique a few summers back after receiving the gift of a pineapple peeler/corer, which pulls the entire fruit from its spiny shell and, when released, pushes out the core to leave behind perfect pineapple rings.

The contraption, however, did not make the cut of essential kitchen equipment when I recently moved. Find my list of 15 indispensable cooking tools in my latest food section column. If you have a good chef’s knife, which tops my list, you can still transform a ripe pineapple into a serving vessel by cutting through its crown, slicing the fruit in half and scooping out the flesh to make room for a filling, such as this ceviche.

Ceviche includes raw seafood — in this case, shrimp — “cooked” with lime juice, so buying good-quality fresh shellfish is a key element of this recipe, courtesy of Tribune News Service. But don’t let the list of ingredients deter you from substituting another seafood, such as white fish, ahi tuna or sea scallops. Anyone with health concerns warning against consumption of raw seafood can saute the fish or shellfish in a tablespoon of olive oil, then chill in the refrigerator before mixing with the remaining ingredients.

Pineapple Shrimp Ceviche

Tribune New Service photo

1 pound extra-large shrimp (26-30 per pound)

4 limes

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

2/3 cup chopped cucumber

2/3 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 jalapeños

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

1 red onion, peeled

1 lemon, cut in half

1 teaspoon sea salt

First, remove shells from the shrimp, then run a knife or a pair of kitchen shears down back of each shrimp to remove vein. Rinse shrimp, then cut each into 4 pieces and place in a bowl.

Zest 2 of the limes directly into bowl, then cut all 4 limes in half and squeeze juices into bowl. Add the finely minced garlic, stir, cover and store in refrigerator. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes and until shrimp flesh is pink and opaque. Depending on shrimp’s size, this can take up to 2 hours.

While shrimp is marinating, chop the cucumber and pineapple into 1/4-inch pieces. Slice the shallot and scallions. Cut the jalapeños in half and remove stems, ribs and seeds, then finely mince jalapeños. In another bowl, mix together pineapple — drained of any excess juice — with the cucumber, shallot, scallions, jalapeños and cilantro.

For pickled red onion garnish, thinly slice the red onion and place in a jar. Juice the lemon into jar and add the salt. Cover jar, then gently shake and store in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Once shrimp is pink and opaque, mix it into pineapple mixture and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Fill half of a scooped-out pineapple with cold ceviche, then top with pickled red onions. Serve with Terra chips or tortilla chips on the side or atop tostadas, or crispy, whole tortillas.

Makes about 6 cups (6 servings).