When it gets hot outside, I start to think about salads. Just like soups in the fall and winter, salads are the savior of summer dinner.
I like to wander through the farmer’s market, without a menu in mind, stuffing my bags with whatever is at its peak. With staples on hand like: farro and short pasta, feta and Parmesan, sundried tomatoes in olive oil and kalamata olives; salads are a few minutes and a bit of creativity away. I might make: farro with feta and grilled vegetables; romaine with heirloom tomato, avocado and cucumber; pasta with cucumber, tomato, kalamata olives, and sundried tomatoes.
When I’m lucky, one of these combinations is too good not to share. This salad qualifies.
Flavor bomb. That’s how I would describe this salad: savoy, sweet, spicy, salty. Then you have the crunch of celery, cucumber, and almonds, and the buttery richness of shrimp and spicy mayonnaise. Serve it over a bed of chopped, crunchy lettuce or, even better, in lettuce or cabbage cups for an al fresco dinner sans silverware. Perfect for a sultry summer evening.
**I originally published this recipe in July of 2012. Since then, I’ve made a few changes; here is the updated recipe.
- 3/4 pound medium shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 cucumber peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2" wedges (no need to peel if you're using an English cucumber)
- 1/2 cantaloupe or honeydew melon seeded and cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 green onion chopped
- 2 ribs celery chopped
- 1 avocado cut in bite size chunks
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds chopped (tamari roasted almonds are great)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves sliced crosswise into thin slivers
- 8 leaves cabbage or butter lettuce optional
To make the spicy mayonnaise, whisk together mayonnaise, sriracha hot chili sauce, soy sauce, and lemon juice in a small bowl; set aside.
To cook the shrimp, bring about 2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan (you want just enough water to cover the shrimp); stir in a small handful of salt. Add shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, or until pink and cooked through. Drain shrimp in a colander and set aside to cool. Coarsely chop the shrimp when they are cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine cucumber, melon, green onions, celery, avocado, almonds. Add chopped shrimp. Spoon spicy mayonnaise over mixture and gently stir to combine. Divide salad between four serving plates or scoop into whole cabbage or lettuce leaves divided among the plates. Sprinkle slivered basil evenly over each. Serve.