Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Blackened Shrimp Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

The other day I stopped at my beloved local dairy farm, Baily's, to pick up a little pint of buttermilk for weekend pancake dreams. No pints to be found, but the avuncular Mr. Baily sent me packing with a quart for the same price. So, saddled with a largess of buttermilk (a problem anyone should like to face!) I noodled around on chowhound for ideas, and came across the notion of a buttermilk dressing. Instantly I imagined it luxuriously poured over a spinach salad, and the rest came together from there. The buttermilk made for a very tasty, pleasantly sour and tart vinaigrette, which mingled well with the smoky and piquant flavors of blackened seafood. I'm kind of in love with this salad.

Blackened Shrimp Salad
Makes 2 entree size salads or 4 side salads

*8 oz fresh spinach
*A couple slices of stale crusty bread
*1 ear corn, shucked, washed and kernels cut off cob
*A handful of thinly sliced red onion crescents
*10-12 shrimp, shelled and deveined
*2-3 tablespoons blackening spices (you may find my mix recipe here)
*High smoke point oil
*Leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme

Buttermilk Vinaigrette
Loosely adapted from Frank Stitts' Southern Table
Makes about 1/2 cup

*1 tablespoon cider vinegar
*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
*1 teaspoon minced shallot
*1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
*1/2 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
*1/4 cup buttermilk
*1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
*1 tablespoon evoo

Wash and dry the spinach, and prep the croutons. Remove the crusts and then cut the bread into modestly sized cubes. Toss with some sea salt, pepper and olive oil and bake at 300 for about 10-15 mins, flipping once. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with the blackening spices and set aside while you prepare the vinaigrette.

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, minced shallot, zest, thyme and pinches of S&P and slowly whisk in the buttermilk and sour cream. When combined, slowly emulsify the evoo within and season to taste. Set aside and heat a cast iron skillet over medium high. When it starts to smoke add a glug of canola oil, swirl around, and then set the shrimp in. Blacken about a minute and a half per side or until cooked through. Beware - there will be smoke! Make sure your exhaust fan is on high or you've got some windows open in the joint.

Throw the spinach, red onions, corn, shrimp, and croutons together, fleck with thyme leaves and then drizzle the dish with the vinaigrette. Freshly cracked pepper and some grains of sea salt to complete.

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