Last Sunday, we gave a pool party for our god-daughter. It’s an annual event to celebrate her birthday for the four of us who are called “The Uncles”. Andrew and I and Terry and Shawn have watched Olivia grow up and we’ve been there for every birthday. It’s the perfect time to break out the Rosé and the pool toys—this year a gigantic swan Olivia named “Gloria Swanson”. It’s also the perfect occasion for this salad. I was drawn to a recipe from Ann Burrell, the Food Network’s wild-haired woman who, it turns out, is a summer visitor to the Hamptons. In her original recipe which appeared in Hamptons magazine, Ann used our perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes as the basis for a shrimp salad. I took off from there. First, I have to thank Ina Garten, who, as almost everybody knows, lives in the next town over full time. From Ina, I learned that roasting shrimp is the best way to capture all their flavor. Far superior to boiling shrimp, roasting them seems to bake all the flavor into the shrimp. The tomatoes were a no-brainer.
The Comfort family farm down the road has baskets of heirloom cherry tomatoes and plenty of beefsteak tomatoes too which I put into action. Since Olivia loves avocado, Andrew and I peeled and sliced 3 ripe avocados into the salad. The final touch in Ann Burrell’s recipe called for Black Volcanic Salt. Fortunately, Williams Sonoma sells this rare salt in a finishing salt selection. If you can get your hands on it, please do. Otherwise you can be forgiven for using any large grained salt like Fleur de Sel. This salad is so simple to make, so satisfying to eat and so beautiful to look at that I’d recommend putting that bag of Costco shrimp you’ve got in the freezer to work this weekend. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Roasted Shrimp Salad with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Avocado. Takes 30 minutes to make. Serves 8.
1-2 lb bag of 31-35 count Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on *
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. Crushed Red or Alleppo Pepper
2 pints of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lbs. of ripe, red soil grown tomatoes
3 ripe Haas Avocados, peeled, pit removed and sliced into ½ inch wedges.
½ white or Maui onion, peeled and sliced very thin
12 large fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade**
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Black Volcanic Sea Salt
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, chopped garlic and red or Aleppo pepper flakes.
3. Place shrimp in a large bowl and pour olive oil and garlic mixture over them, making sure to coat all the shrimp with the mixture.
4. Put the shrimp on a single layer on a sheet pan. Salt and pepper the shrimp and put them in the oven. The smaller sized shrimp (31-35 count) will cook in 5 minutes. Larger shrimp will take only slightly longer. Do not overcook. Shrimp are done when they turn pink and are opaque all the way through.
5. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion and avocado and half of the basil chiffonade.
6. Remove the shrimp from the sheet pan and pour all the juices and garlic bits into the bowl with the tomatoes, onion and avocado. Add the vinegar and toss gently.
7. Arrange the salad on individual plates, top with shrimp and sprinkled with the remaining basil chiffonade and black volcanic salt over all. Serve.
*You can use the larger sizes too 21-25 or 11-15 count. Just adjust the roasting time upwards in 3 minute intervals.
** To make a chiffonade of basil leaves, stack 6 leaves on top of each other, gently roll them into a cigar shape and then use a sharp knife to slice them into thin ribbons. Repeat. Stack, roll, slice and you’ve made a chiffonade.