Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Shrimp Salad

I love when dinner ideas come to me while I stroll through the supermarket. It was a warm summer afternoon and I was in the mood for something cool and refreshing. That means nothing fried, nothing with red meat or particularly carb-laden. I lingered in the produce section for inspiration and spotted plump heads of Belgian endive. I thought, "I love endive salad!" A few feet later, I saw ripe red watermelon and a similar thought came to mind. "I love watermelon salad!" A walk past the seafood counter and, you guessed it, "I love shrimp salad!"

Ordinarily I'd make shrimp salad with mayonnaise, celery, and Old Bay. Endive and watermelon are similar in that both work nicely with a balsamic vinaigrette and some sort of cheese, like feta or bleu. And walnuts. Walnuts go with everything. (My apologies to those with tree nut allergies.) Why not just make an endive salad that just so happens to have both watermelon and shrimp? And, just to be different, use a mustard vinaigrette in place of the balsamic. Anyway, balsamic vinegar makes the endive look like it's old and turning brown.

Once I peeled the shrimp, I tossed them in a quick poaching liquid made up of lemon juice, a bay leaf, and peppercorns in plain water. I found some Knorr shrimp bouillon cubes in the cupboard and tossed half of one of those in, too. (Knorr seafood bouillon cubes are commonly found in Asian markets, like H Mart.) The shrimp cooked quickly, and once they were done I set them aside to cool a bit while I worked on the dressing. Mr Minx was called in to dice the watermelon.

While there were a few steps to the process, the dish came together pretty quickly. By the time the chopping and dressing-making was complete, the shrimp were cool enough to handle. I tossed everything except the cheese and walnuts together and put them in the fridge to cool completely. Once it was chilled, all I needed to do was to fill the large endive leaves (optional - I thought it would be pretty) and sit down to eat.

Summer Shrimp Salad

This would be great with crab, too.

1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
Juice of half a lemon
Half a Knorr shrimp bouillon cube (optional)
1 tablespoon of salt (divided use)
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 heads Belgian endive
1 cup diced watermelon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
Bleu cheese crumbles

Put 3 cups of water in a 2 quart saucepan and add bay leaf, peppercorns, lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and reduce to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, until shrimp are opaque. Turn off heat and allow shrimp to cool in the liquid. When cool enough to handle, drain the shrimp and cut each into 3-4 pieces. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine the dijon, honey, rice wine vinegar, and shallot in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, or to taste. Toss half the vinaigrette with the cooled shrimp.

Thoroughly rinse and dry the endives. Cut the stem ends off and set aside 8 - 10 of the largest leaves. Chop the remaining endive and place in a bowl. Add the watermelon, parsley, and walnuts. Toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Add the shrimp and toss again. Season with the remaining salt to taste.

Spoon some of the salad into the reserved endive leaves. Mound the remaining salad in the center of the plate. Sprinkle all with bleu cheese.

Serves 3-4

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