Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Greek Salads with Blackened Shrimp Skewers

Among the signature dishes of any given cuisine, I think classic Greek salads rank near the top. The ingredients are simple, yet they have a special balance of flavors and textures that make them seem more complex.

Here, I stuck with tradition. Crunchy romaine lettuce (a fresh bunch, please—no bags), sweet stem tomato, cucumber, red onion, briny black and green olives and capers, green bell pepper, and feta cheese—a delectable combination.
Greek Salad Ingredients
Homemade vinaigrette is as easy as the salad: a little garlic and crushed oregano leaves, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and extra virgin olive oil. Light, fresh, and delicious.
To round out the salads, I served them with skewers of seared, blackened shrimp. Blackening is all about the seasoning—simple spices that add smoky, rich depth to quickly cooked seafood and meats. Here, I used black pepper, chile powder, and ground cumin and coriander. Give the shrimp 15 minutes to marinate in the spices, then sear in a hot pan—ready in less than five minutes.
Blackening Spices
Serves 2


For the Vinaigrette
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp crushed dried oregano leaves
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salads
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 12 large (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • olive oil, for drizzling and brushing
  • sea salt
  • fresh lemon juice, for drizzling
  • 5-6 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 12-14 thin slices seedless cucumber
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 small stem tomato, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/3 cup thin, short green bell pepper strips
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tsp capers, rinsed
  • assorted black and green Greek olives, to taste
Prepared Vegetables

For the Vinaigrette
  1. Combine the garlic, vinegar, mustard, and oregano in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Dijon Vinaigrette
For the Salads
  1. Combine the black pepper, chile powder, cumin, and coriander in a bowl. Add the shrimp and drizzle with oil. Toss to coat the shrimp with spices on both sides. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
  2. Thread 3 shrimp onto each of 4 skewers (short enough to lie flat in the pan).
  3. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Season the shrimp with salt and sear until dark pink with slightly blackened spices on the bottom, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Turn and sear until just cooked through, 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and drizzle with lemon juice.
Seasoned Shrimp
Shrimp Ready to Sear 
Shrimp Beginning to Sear 
Shrimp after Turning
Blackened Shrimp Skewers
Divide the lettuce between two dinner plates. Divide the remaining ingredients on top and drizzle with vinaigrette. Lay the shrimp skewers on top or serve alongside.

Greek Salad with Blackened Shrimp Skewers

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