Next time you're craving a taste beyond the southern border, turn to this out-of-the-box fresh seafood dish. Oh, and don't forget to pour yourself a glass of mezcal.

By Alison Roman as told to Laura Rege
December 05, 2019
Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott

When Alison Roman begins developing a new mouth-watering dish, she starts with familiar ingredients before infusing flares of her go-to cooking style: acidic, spicy, and salty. In her second cookbook, Nothing Fancythe chef and writer offers no-nonsense recipes that burst with her signature flavors—and ones that remind her of her favorite memories.

“I had gone through a breakup right before Christmas, so I decided to abandon my plans and go on a self-care retreat to Mexico for New Year’s. The trip culminated in cooking for a large group of strangers who quickly became friends. That meal is one of my favorites." (Related: 20 Nutrition Experts’ Favorite 5-Minute Meals)

“In Mexico City I bumped into someone I know, who invited me to a New Year’s Eve party in the countryside. When I got there, dinner needed to be made, so I started cooking. I grilled a ton of head-on shrimp (my favorite way to eat them) and tossed them in crushed tomatoes with lots of lime, marinating them in a sauce that dreams are made of. Everyone pitched in, making salsa with tomatillos grilled on a stick, cilantro rice, and charred tortillas. We instantly bonded as we stood around the bowl of sauce, dipping tortillas into the last of it."

"I don’t know if it was the mezcal or what, but that dish was one of the best things I’d ever eaten. When I got home, the meal became part of my regular rotation. It’s guaranteed to bring good vibes to any party—even a party of one.”

Grilled Shrimp Recipe with Crushed Fresh Tomatoes and Lots of Lime

Serves: 4 to 6

Start to Finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes


  • 2 extremely ripe, large-ish tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more limes for serving
  • 2 1/2 pounds medium head-on shrimp (or prawns)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 cup tender leaves and stems of fresh parsley or cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Tortillas, rice, or toast for serving


  1. Using your hands, crush tomatoes in a large bowl, breaking up large bits. Add garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to high (alternatively, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat).
  3. Toss shrimp with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place prawns on the grill (or in a skillet), turning once, until lightly charred and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total, depending on size. Immediately transfer to the bowl with crushed tomatoes and butter and toss to coat. Add crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Add lime juice and let sit a minute or two; heat from prawns will melt butter, gently cooking tomato and garlic.
  5. Transfer prawns to a large serving platter or bowl, making sure to pour the tomato-y juices over everything. Top with the parsley, serving more limes alongside with warmed tortillas, a bowl of rice, or slabs of toast for mopping up the juices.

Reprinted from Nothing Fancy. Copyright © 2019 by Alison Roman. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.



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