Welcome to Chow with Me, where Chowhound’s executive editor Hana Asbrink shares all of the irresistible things she’s cooking, eating, reading, buying, and more. Today: The zippy shrimp salad she’s currently smitten with.
During the work week, my lunch game is very predictable. For at least three out of five days, I will have a salad of some kind, dutifully housed in any assortment of storage containers (the Rosti Mepal Salad Box is a favorite). Leafy salads, grain salads, warm salads, leftovers-atop-greens “salads,” I love ’em all. But I know I’m not alone when I say it’s natural to hit a salad rut when you eat them so often.
I knew, then, after encountering the Roasted Shrimp Salad from The Little Beet Table that I’d come upon something special. This gem of a restaurant has a delightful veg-forward menu that brings in droves during lunch. It’s close enough to our New York City offices that it’s become a favorite for the occasional outing. Every time I’ve gone (or have been lucky enough to get takeout), I’ve ordered this very salad.
What makes it so special? This is truly a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts: perfectly cooked shrimp (more on those in a bit), crunchy spiced almonds, sweet-tart golden raisins, filling quinoa, buttery ripe avocado, and killer white balsamic vinaigrette each plays a key role that, combined together, create one of the best salads I’ve had in a while. So much so that I—and some of my coworkers—don’t bother ordering anything else (though the sunflower hummus is great to share; that’s the near-empty bowl in the upper right-hand corner, down below).
Back to that shrimp. I don’t know about you, but ordering and buying them can often be a gamble. Overcooked, rubbery, muddy taste…good shrimp can be hard to come by. But the shrimp in this here salad (which are actually pan-fried, not roasted) are plump, well-seasoned, and most importantly, fresh.
“Try to source the best shrimp you can,” Matt Aita, Little Beet Table’s culinary director, tells me after I’ve begged for the recipe. “I really like wild-caught Del Pacifico shrimp from Mexico. If you live in N.Y.C., you can find these at Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.”
I realize good shrimp can come at a price. Try to get the highest-quality you feel comfortable paying for, and give this flavorful and filling salad a shot this summer. Aita encourages riffs, too. “This is a basic recipe that you can adjust for the season,” he says. “You can add herbs, seasonal ingredients like tomatoes, radish, or carrots.” Guaranteed to bust you out of any salad rut.
The Little Beet Table’s Roasted Shrimp Salad
1 cup of your favorite lettuce mix
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons curry-spiced almonds (toasted crushed almonds mixed with Madras curry powder)
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced and fanned
6 shrimp, peeled with tails removed
White balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below, will make enough for many salads)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Finishing salt, like Maldon, to taste
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup shallots
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons agave
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
About 2 teaspoons of salt, adjust to taste
1. Make the vinaigrette: Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
2. Heat a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add some oil.
3. Lightly season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to the pan. Once one side of the shrimp is slightly caramelized, flip to caramelize the other side.
4. Meanwhile, mix the greens with vinaigrette to your taste. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Compose the salad: Place the greens in a bowl and add the quinoa, raisins, and almonds. Place the half-fanned avocado in the middle of the salad and season with finishing salt. Place the shrimp around the components, and enjoy!
Do you have a favorite salad these days? Please share it with me below!
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Header image courtesy of Front of House.