By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Though salads are standard lunchbox fare year-round, they usually start appearing as the main course at the dinner table when the weather starts to warm. But if your salads always seem to hit the same notes, try giving your greens a different accent. My shrimp and mandarin salad is a surprisingly easy way to impart a little flair. Seafood, especially shrimp, is quicker to cook than a hard-boiled egg and certainly makes a salad seem more luxurious. By cooking the shrimp in an easy stir-together sauce, some pantry staples do double-duty as marinade and salad dressing, a bilingual approach to cooking to make your tongue sing. Canned mandarins—a real godsend in the seasonal gap between winter and summer fruits—lend a little sweetness, and almonds provide a nutty crunch. So next time you need a taste of Asia, try a little mandarin accent in this salad, which is sure to translate into some great flavor.
Mandarin Shrimp Salad
¼ soy sauce
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8-10 cups mixed salad greens
1 ½ cups mandarin orange segments, canned or fresh
½ cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives, optional
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, honey, ketchup, vinegar and ginger. Heat the oil in a large skillet just until smoking. Add the shrimp, season with the black pepper and cook over high heat, just until the shrimp are opaque throughout. Add the soy sauce mixture to the skillet and continue to cook until the sauce is reduced and starting to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue reducing the dressing to the desired consistency; once chilled, it should have the texture of heavy cream. Pour the dressing into a small heat-proof bowl and refrigerate or, to chill it more quickly, place the bowl in an ice water bath.
When ready to serve, toss the salad greens with enough of the chilled dressing to coat and divide the salad among four dinner plates or six first course servings. Divide the orange segments and shrimp equally over the greens. Sprinkle with the almonds and chives, if using, and drizzle a little of the remaining dressing over the top.