Monday, July 23, 2012

Salad--Corn, Greens, and Shrimp

Salads are quintessential summer. Yesterday I made a really fantastic salad using greens from my own garden, which made me feel quite self-satisfied. Growing lettuce really is not particularly difficult, other than the fact that there are major inertia hurdles to overcome in gardening with little children, but I still felt that its harvest and use in my dinner was very satisfactory.

Since it was the primary element of our dinner, this salad was very substantial. I started with a Mexican-inspired corn and shrimp salad then built from there. Here are my basic instructions for building a salad with commentary on how I customized this one.

Corn and Shrimp Salad
1 lb uncooked shrimp (preferrably wild caught American shrimp)
1 tsp salt
1 handful cilantro, mostly leaves, minced
6 cloves garlic, pressed
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups frozen (thawed) or very fresh (cooked) corn kernels
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp chili powder (optional but nice)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees or preheat a skillet over medium high heat. Combine the salt, cilantro, garlic, and olive oil. Toss with the shrimp and cook for 6-7 minutes, cook just until the shrimp is opaque and turn halfway through. Cool the shrimp slightly and cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces. Toss the shrimp with the corn, mayonnaise, and chili powder if you are using it. Chill.

Building a basic green salad (main course)
2 handfuls of mixed greens per eater
2 Tbsp to ¼ cup chopped/julienned/sliced fruit or vegetable per eater (I used Farmers' Market carrots)
1 Tbsp toasted, chopped nuts per eater OR ¼ cup croutons (I used candied and salted slivered almonds)
1-3 Tbsp grated or crumbled cheese per eater (I used 3 Tbsp grated Edam/eater)
1 Tbsp olive oil per eater
2 tsp vinegar or 2 Tbsp acidic fruit juice per eater
1 small clove garlic per eater, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp sugar per eater

Place the fruit or vegetable, nuts or croutons, and cheese in the bottom of your salad bowl of choice. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients to emulsify. Add the corn-shrimp salad and toss to combine thoroughly. Add the mixed greens and drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the greens. Toss lightly and taste a lettuce leaf to determine whether seasonings and vinaigrette levels are correct. Season the salad with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Artisan salts are very nice on green salads because they provide another point of flavor intensity and textural interest.

This salad's elements could be fully made ahead of time and the salad tossed immediately before serving.

VEGAN NOTES: Use additional nuts in place of the cheese and substitute fried or roasted, crumbled tempeh for the shrimp. Use vegan mayonnaise.
Roasted Tempeh
8 oz tempeh (simmered for 10 minutes in water and then cooled slightly)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, minced (optional)
1/2  onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Whisk together the sundried tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and liquid smoke. Crumble the tempeh into the marinade and allow it to sit up to one hour. Preheat the oven or skillet over medium-high. Spread the tempeh on a layer of silicone liner or foil. Bake until the tempeh is crispy. Cool slightly and use in your recipe.
GLUTEN NOTES: As prepared (without the croutons) this salad is gluten-free.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, July 2012

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