A friend of mine celebrated his birthday yesterday, and he requested that I write less about the Real Housewives and more about cooking. I can’t promise that I’ll reduce the Housewives coverage (there’s a new episode on every NIGHT it seems), but it did occur to me that I haven’t cooked anything for the blog in quite some time (garlic contest holdouts — I will be attacking those recipes this week). Anyway, I decided this afternoon would be the perfect time to take on a recipe for lunch, and who better to offer up a wonderful noontime option that my favorite Food Network personality: Ina Garten.
I immediately leafed through Ina’s new cookbook, How Easy Is That? and decided upon a delicious looking roasted shrimp salad. This was exciting to me because not only was I trying a new Ina dish, but I was actually hoping to conquer a demon from my past. You see, back in 2004 or so, one of the very first recipes I attempted to make was a shrimp salad. I was a naive lad back then, and I just plucked whatever recipe I had found off of the Food Network site. Just my luck that it was a Paula Deen dish. I didn’t know who Paula was or what her reputation was. Needless to say, the combination of her excess and my ineptitude made for a very sad, very mayo-intensive disaster.
Taking on Ina’s shrimp recipe would be my first stab at such a dish since the 2004 disaster. Would I triumph at last or drown in a pool of mayonnaise yet again. Pics after the jump…
A pound of shrimp. Ina calls for two and a half pounds, but I decided to instead halve the recipe. Also, Fresh & Easy only sells shell-on shrimp, which meant I had to peel all these bad boys. Oh, and despite being labeled as “extra-large,” these were decidedly only large. Already I was off to a rocky start.
Abstract art? Nope. Just the pile of intestinal tracts I accumulated after having deveined all the shrimp. Crustacean poop!
Once all the peeling and deveining is done, I place the shrimp on a baking sheet and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s pretty easy.
A speedy four minutes later, the shrimp are done. The recipe calls for them to roast for six to eight minutes, but given that these guys were smaller than what Ina requests, I merely roasted them for three minutes, turned the shrimp, and then roasted for forty-five more seconds. They turned out PERFECTLY.
Meanwhile, time to make the dressing. In the bowl I put 1/3 cup of mayo (down from a full cup for a normal serving), a tablespoon of orange zest and what’s supposed to be one tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice but is actually probs two or three. Oops. Oh, and there’s white wine vinegar in there too.
The dressing, all whisked together. I fear that the excess orange juice has led to an unwanted increase in dressing volume (which translates into a mayo-saster). I’m concerned.
In go the shrimp. Hopefully the dressing will be the perfect amount.
Nope. It’s runny. Also entering the mix: capers, dill, and red onion.
Soupy dressing be damned: I let the salad sit for 90 minutes and then dig in.
The verdict? Amaaaazing! I literally ate the whole thing. I could not stop. Even though there was too much mayo (partially due to my error), it didn’t matter. I just shook off the excess with every shrimp, and all was good. Scratch that: all was great! Unlike Paula Deen’s atrocity, which involves anchovy paste, Old Bay, and who knows what else, Ina’s roasted shrimp salad isn’t overly tangy, nor does it taste overly heavy (despite the issues I had with the dressing). The orange zest and juice lightens up the mayonnaise while the dill lends a fresh herbal quality to it all. It also helped the the shrimp were perfectly cooked. In the end, it’s the flavor of the shrimp that really does the heavy lifting in this dish. Everything else just augments it. If only I had more to eat. Next time, I’ll make the full portion with the proper shrimp, and with any luck, the ratio of dressing the seafood will be just right…
Incidentally, even without the shrimp, the dressing would be wonderful to dip artichokes, breaded fish fillets, or even fries into.