Shrimp Salad with Lemon Herb Pesto
This time of year, we’re having some very warm days lately, along with the frequent thunderstorms and downpours that always seem to hit in the early evening, right about the the time when dinner is ready to serve. On days like that, it’s nice to have something that’s quick, light and full of summer flavor, but flexible enough to switch from grill to saute pan, should the need arise. This shrimp salad is perfect for that.
Apart from the prep, some of which can be done the evening before, this dish can be on the table in 15 minutes or less from the start. The trick is to make the peas and couscous ahead of time and have them at room temperature, and make the pesto a day or two ahead. Then, a few minutes before dinner, mince the garlic, toss the shrimp with that and some EVOO, and then, if the weather is right, toss the shrimp on the grill or, if not, give ’em a quick saute. While the shrimp cook, plate the salad and as soon as the shrimp are done, you’re ready to eat.
The pesto is made from fresh herbs, good olive oil and a white balsamic vinegar infused with lemon that I get from Basiks at Home. If you don’t have the Basiks balsamic handy, you can use good white balsamic vinegar and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice, but trust me, the Basik’s stuff is great. I use some fresh basil, rosemary and parsley for the herbs, which make for a sweet and very aromatic pesto. The amounts aren’t precise. I like to start with a roughly equal blend and then taste and adjust frequently. The same with the oil and the balsamic.
Along with being a nice light dinner, this also makes for a great lunch plate or even an appetizer. Like I said, quick and flexible.
- 2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon Balsamic Vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar and fresh lemon juice)
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, basil), coarsely chopped
- Mixed salad greens
- 1 cup sweet peas, steamed
- 1 cup pearled (Israeli) couscous, prepared according to package directions
- Coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the shrimp in a glass or plastic bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat, the garlic and a little salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Combine the fresh herbs with a tablespoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small-capacity food processor and process until it's a thin paste (you can also use a mortar and pestle to grind the herbs in the oil) using small amounts of additional oil and balsamic until the consistency is right. Add in sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Prepare individual plates with salad greens and sprinkle the couscous and peas over the salad. Drizzle with high-quality extra virgin olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Prepare the shrimp by grilling them or sauteing them until they're bright pink and opaque. Place the shrimp on the plated salads, drizzle with the herb pesto and a little more olive oil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.
- Everything but the shrimp can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and brought to room temperature before plating.