If boneless, skinless chicken breasts are our number-one protein, shrimp is a close runner-up. Very close. These little crustaceans cook up incredibly fast, take to a huge range of cuisines, dishes, and flavors, and—perhaps their best quality—they thaw in next to no time. Keep a bag in the freezer for those nights when you need a super quick but still generally healthy meal. We actually preferred frozen shrimp, since the fresh stuff has a short shelf life of just a few days; and in fact, most “fresh” shrimp were shipped frozen, then thawed at the store. And don’t forget about shrimp when you’re planning dinner-party menus (you won’t believe how fast guests nab our Crispy Cornmeal Shrimp, and our Orange-Chili Shrimp Cocktail introduces an unexpected taste for South of the Border-themed meals). You’ll also find an Easy Shrimp Bisque, along with our Smoky Shrimp and Grits—both mains are on the table in 20 minutes flat. But before we dive in to Real Simple’s top shrimp recipes, let’s take a moment to honor another reason shrimp always rise to the occasion: A single medium shrimp contains just 7 calories, and they’re incredibly rich in protein, along with more key nutrients. As with any seafood, be aware of what, exactly, you’re getting with shrimp: Wild-caught North American shrimp is the most sustainable option, but failing that, opt for shrimp that’s labeled with a seal of approval from a third-party agency, like the Marine Stewardship Council.