Spinach and Strawberry – Classic Use of In-Season Ingredients
Do you wait for the seasons to change so you can make use of all the delicious “in season” ingredients in your area? Where I am in the South, strawberries come into season for only about 4 – 6 weeks. They start sometime in early May and last a little bit into June if the stars line up *just right.*
Although with modern farming techniques and refrigerated transportation, strawberries are usually available year round. But don’t mistake those shipped strawberries in December to hold the sweetness and succulence of a “picked-today” pint of these delicious fruits.
The “Sweet/Salty” Combination
It sounds crazy, but our tastebuds love the sweet/salty combination, and that is why this sweet strawberry pairs well with the tart vinegar in the dressing and also in the blue cheese.
What do you think about these other sweet/salty combinations?
- Saltine Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches
- I can see how this would work!
- Apple Pie and Cheddar Cheese
- This combination started in the apple-rich Northwest and spread across the country. Try an Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese crust!
- Fruits (especially melons) and Salt
- Salt enhances the sweetness and increase the intensity of contrasting flavors. Try salt on watermelon and cantaloupe!
- Salt and Caramel
- This flavor combination has blown up the commercial market in the last couple of years. The salt is perfect to calm down the super sweetness of the caramel and enhances the slightly nutty flavor of the caramel, which at it’s base is simply overcooked sugar.
- Ham and Pineapple
- This combination has a crazy loyal following! It started with pizza but you increasingly find it creeping into other dishes.
Frozen Shrimp vs. Fresh Shrimp
In the past, shrimp was scarce and it didn’t survive the shipping time from oceanfront ports to landlocked kitchen. But, just as we discussed with refrigerated shipping for vegetables, fresh shrimp is flash frozen right after it is cleaned.
With increased availability, the price has come down considerably. I can buy 1 pound of Jumbo (21-25 pieces per pound) for under $6.00,
That is the perfect amount/price to use in recipes like Shrimp Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Shrimp and Grits. For shrimp cocktail or peel ’em and eat ’em, I might choose fresh shrimp (If I can get it!)
How to Clean the Shrimp
How to Cook the Shrimp
Most of the time, really only requires 3 to 5 minutes to cook. Season the water with salt, seafood boil seasoning (like Old Bay) or a combination of salt, lemon, and ground pepper.
Have them cleaned and ready to go when you start the water boiling. Drop the peeled and deveined shrimp in the pt and watch closely, because this whole cooking thing won’t tack but 3 – 5 minutes.
Shrimp is done when it is completely opaque throughout and slightly pink.
SPINACH AND STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH POACHED SHRIMP AND POPPY SEED DRESSING
- One bag baby spinach pre-washed
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted
- 1 pint strawberries hulled and quartered
- 1/2 medium cucumber peeled, seeded and finely diced
- 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp poached or sautéed
- 1 lemon juiced
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar or sugar substitute such as Splenda
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a roiling boil. Season with a large pinch of kosher salt. Add shrimp and lemon juice, remove from heat, and cover. After about 5 minutes, the shrimp should be opaque. Remove from hot pan and set aside. (Shrimp require very little cooking — no direct boiling maintains tenderness and flavor.)
- Whisk all dressing ingredients together in bowl, and chill in the refrigerator. In a large salad bowl, toss together all the salad ingredients except the shrimp. Arrange greens on serving plates, top with shrimp, and dress just before serving.
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