Salads seem like the perfect food to me. You can keep it simple or go all out, packed with protein and grains, or vegetable forward and light. I love the variety of textures - a crispy carrot here, a squishy tomato there. The crunchiness of seeds contrasting with the creaminess of cheese. And the endless possibilities of vinaigrette.
Before this begins to sound like a love song for a salad, I'll admit that I don't get past the simple greens-onion-tomato-olive oil-balsamic-salt-pepper version as often as I'd like. There are some incredible restaurants in Portland taking salads to the next level. But in my own kitchen, salads seem like an afterthought and I wish they took center stage more often.
A recent project gave me the perfect opportunity to improve my salad game, resulting in this salad that showcases the radishes and spring greens of the season, while grasping at the last days of citrus season. The tangy sweetness of mandarin is the ideal complement to the cumin-flavored shrimp. A genius call by my sister, Brenna, with whom I worked to create this recipe for a client. This is the kind of salad that only asks for a crispy piece of bread with butter and a glass of chilled white wine. My idea of a perfect meal.
Mandarin Orange Salad with Pan-Seared Shrimp
1 head of butter lettuce
½ cup sliced almonds
2-3 mandarin oranges, peeled & separated
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Marinated shrimp ingredients:
1 lb. of deveined shrimp, shells removed
1 tsp. cumin, ground
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ cup olive oil
2 tsp. salt
Lemon vinaigrette ingredients:
Juice from 1 lemon
⅓ cup olive oil
1 tsp. cumin, ground
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
a pinch of pepper
In a medium bowl mix, prepare ingredients for marinated shrimp. Mix the olive oil, cumin, garlic, and salt. Then add the shrimp and toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Mix the ingredients for the lemon vinaigrette. Season to taste and set aside.
Tear the leaves off the butter lettuce leaving them whole. Wash them well and set aside to dry.
Slice the radishes in half then two more times to create small wedges. Set aside. Prepare the green onions and set aside. Cut the mandarin orange slices in half and set aside.
Take the butter lettuce leaves and place them in a bowl. Drizzle half of the lemon dressing over the leaves. Then sprinkle the sliced almonds over the leaves. Add the radishes, mandarin oranges, and green onions. Add the feta cheese and remaining lemon dressing. Season to taste.
Toss radishes with olive oil and salt. Using a grill pan, lightly grill radishes. Set aside.
Using the same grill pan, grill the shrimp on each side for 3-4 minutes until done. Season with salt to taste. Then add the radishes and shrimp to the prepared salad. Enjoy!