Spicy Shrimp Salad with Guava-Tangerine Dressing

shrimp salad
It has come to my attention that, since I started food blogging, I have gained ten pounds.  Although I believe that gravity has only gotten stronger during that time, it still doesn’t hurt to avoid beurre blanc and deep fried cream cheese for at least one meal per week.  This recipe is quick and light, but surprisingly filling – perfect for a warm spring evening.

Makes: 2 sensible salads
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 1 head Boston Bibb or Butter lettuce, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 dz. medium uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili oil (or more, if you like it extra hot)
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 tangerines
  • 1/4 cup guava nectar
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Rinse and thoroughly dry the shrimp.  In a medium bowl, mix together the shrimp, garlic, red chili oil and 1 tbsp. of olive oil, plus a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  2. Suprême the tangerines.  Suprêming, in this case, means removing the meat of the tangerine from any pith, rind or connecting membranes.  All of that stuff is stringy and bitter we’re only after the best parts.  To suprême a tangerine, use a pairing knife to cut off the rind.  Don’t peel it off like you were going to eat the tangerine as a snack, actually carve it off with the knife.  You’ll end up taking off a little meat with the rind – this is fine.  Once the rind is totally removed you’ll clearly be able to see each section of fruit divided by a membrane.  Slice into the fruit on either side of each membrane to remove just the good parts.  Discard the rest.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine about 1/3 of the tangerine slices with the guava nectar on medium heat.  Cook just until it begins to reduce, about 10 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Once the skillet is hot, add the shrimp and sear on both sides, about 1 minute per side.
  5. Plate up your salads with the shrimp, avocado, remaining tangerines, slivered almonds and sesame seeds.  Dress with the tangerine-guava dressing and salt and pepper the whole thing to taste.

If you aren’t in a shrimp mood, you can substitute in just about anything you’d like: seared tuna, grilled chicken, tofu, swordfish… you name it.  Open up a nice, fruity white wine and enjoy your evening of healthy living at its best!

Proscuitto-Wrapped Shrimp with Blackberry Mint Sauce

proscuitto-wrapped shrimp
Shrimp just loves to take on other flavors, especially hot ones.  My favorite spice for lighting up shrimp is mace, as you may have seen in a previous recipe.  If you happen to be assaulted while enjoying this dish, just rub the shrimp in your assailant’s eyes.  Plus, you can poke him with the pointy end of the skewer.

Makes: 4 self-defense skewers
Total kitchen time: 20 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 dz. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 6 slices Prosciutto de Parma
  • 4 bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mace
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp. blackberry preserves
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped mint leaves
  • 3 tbsp. tawny port
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat your grill on medium high.
  2. Slice each piece of prosciutto lengthwise and carefully wrap it around a shrimp.  Skewer the shrimp through the tail and the thickest part so it stays securely on the skewer.  Repeat for the remaining shrimp, three to a skewer.
  3. Lightly salt and pepper the wrapped shrimp skewers.  Then, sprinkle with the mace.  Adjust the amount to your personal preference – remember, this stuff is pretty strong.  Refrigerate the skewers until you’re ready to grill.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the blackberry preserves, chopped mint and port.  Heat until boiling over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  If you’re sauce is slightly lumpy or coagulated, pour it into a small food processor and run on high for 90 seconds. 
  5. Grill the shrimp skewers over high heat for 1 minute or so per side.  They won’t take long, so be careful not to overcook.  Plate up and enjoy!

Of course, these skewers would pair nicely with melon or cilantro as well.  Just be careful – those are weapons you’re holding.  Hot, delicious weapons.  Mmmmm….

Shrimp Salad Niçoise

shrimp nicoise
I love me some niçoise.  Most people are a little shocked the first time they encounter this salad.  In the traditional preparation, lightly seared tuna is served on a bed of butter lettuce with hard boiled eggs, steamed green beans and potatoes.  To a newcomer, it might appear that the salad is actually three or four different dishes, haphazardly confined to a undersized plate.  However, the niçoise is no consequence of inadequate dishware – to the contrary, it is a delicate balance of fat, acid, crunch and tenderness.  My composition honor’s the spirit of its ancestor, it just costs less. 

Serves: 2 Nice People from Nice
Total Kitchen Time: 30 minutes

Shopping List:

  • 1/2 lb. medium shrimp (20-30 count), peeled and deveined, tails on
  • 1/2 lb small red potatoes (you can also use fingerling potatoes)
  • 1 head butter lettuce (sometimes labeled Boston or Bibb; if you use Iceberg, you’re not allowed to make this salad ever again.) cleaned and torn
  • 1 large handful arugula
  • 1/2 cup Niçoise olives (substitute with Kalamata in an emergency)
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp. high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh parmesan cheese (optional)

       shrimp and a lemon

  1. Clean and halve the potatoes.  If the potatoes are more than an inch wide in any dimension, halve them again.  Big potatoes are not good for salad, but you probably knew that.
  2. Par-cook the potatoes until tender using your favorite method.  I like to submerge the cut potatoes in a shallow microwave-proof dish and nuke for a few minutes.  Also feel free to steam or boil the little buggers.  You’re looking for a doneness of fork-tender, but not quite to the point of cracking or falling apart.
  3. Using a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, sauté the potatoes with a very small drizzle of olive oil until they start to pick up a little color.  Set the potatoes aside and keep ’em warm.
  4. Make the dressing.  Combine the garlic, olive oil, mustard, lemon juice and honey in a small food processor.  Pulse for a while until it is emulsified.  Salt and pepper the dressing to taste.  Add half of the vinegar and taste again.  Adjust the final flavor by adding the remaining vinegar, a little at a time, until you’re satisfied or too hungry to care anymore. 
  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the butter is hot and a little foamy, add the shrimp and cook until they have turned completely pink, but not much longer than that.  The shrimp will finish cooking very quickly, so be careful not to over-exercise your sauté skills there, captain Benihana. 
  6. Arrange the salad with the lettuce, arugula, potatoes, olives, shrimp and dressing.  Top with a small amount of parmesan cheese, if you’d like.

This salad is also excellent with salmon, if you’d like to continue the variation on a theme.  If you’re looking for a salad with a little more, well, meat, look no further