Spring is here, and even though I’m in South Florida, I feel the change. Not so much in the temperature (we only turned on the heat for a few days this winter), but from what I see around me in the tropical flowers and fruits. Our mango and starfruit trees are full of miniature-sized versions of fruit that will ripen in the summer. The air is warm, but not unbearably humid like South Florida summers can be. The produce isles at the grocery store are stocked with spring favorites: asparagus, radishes and Brussels sprouts.
It’s funny how infectious the excitement for spring can be. I see it in my Facebook feed; all of the northern folks clamoring for some sunny rays after yet another snowstorm. In tribute to spring, I created this asparagus salad with shrimp and grapefruit with citrus vinaigrette. It’s fresh and light, with the perfect balance of subtle sweetness, acid and crunch.
I’m not sure what I love more about this salad. Is it the taste or the beautiful mix of colors on the plate? Pink grapefruit, red-rimmed radishes, purple baby lettuce, bright green asparagus and pink Key West shrimp vie for attention both in appearance and texture. Enjoy it with a cold glass of homebrewed iced tea for the perfect lunch to celebrate spring with friends or loved ones.
I have to give a special mention to the shrimp I used in this recipe. They hail from my hometown, Key West. It’s hard to find Key West pink shrimp—even in Miami. These wild shrimp are sweet and tender and usually more abundant in winter months. If you see them in the store or on a restaurant menu, be sure to try them out.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for asparagus salad with shrimp and grapefruit as much as we did! Happy spring from Love and Duck Fat!
More refreshing salads:
Yield: 2 servings
Note: recipe calls for 6 shrimp per serving (photo shows 3).
Place the shrimp on a paper towel to dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over high heat, and add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan. When the butter foams; add the shrimp to the pan. Sear the shrimp on one side for 1-2 minutes, and then flip to the other side for another 1-2 minutes, until they begin to curl and the centers become opaque. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside to cool.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set aside a bowl of ice water. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the water and immediately plunge into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Carefully remove the outer skin from the grapefruit with a knife. Cut out the grapefruit segments by cutting in-between the membranes. Once the segments are removed, set them aside. Squeeze the juice from the outer skin and the remaining membrane into a bowl. You should have about 4 tablespoons of grapefruit juice.
Add about ½ teaspoon of salt and fresh pepper to the grapefruit juice. Whisk in remaining olive oil. Taste for seasoning.
Arrange the salad mix, radishes, sliced onion, grapefruit segments and asparagus on a plate. Top with the shrimp. Spoon the citrus vinaigrette on top.
Quiche-making a few times a month is one of my favorite ways to save time in the kitchen (I spend way too much time cooking). Not only I end up with several servings of breakfast (and lunch), quiche has a way of making a hectic day somehow more refined. It’s easy to keep ingredients on hand to make a good quiche, like this one with asparagus and bacon. A fresh vegetable is usually the star, with eggs, a good cheese and frozen pie crusts.
While I firmly believe in cooking from scratch, cooking is mostly a chore, which is why I use store-bought pie crusts. Making a crust from scratch would significantly reduce any time-saving I may accomplish, and I’m not sure the self-satisfaction of cooking from scratch (in the case of a pie crust) is worth the end result.
In this case, I found a new brand of premade pie crust in my grocery freezer section. It was an organic spelt pie crust. I have no idea what spelt is, but the organic label sold me, being that my only other options were Pillsbury (my least favorite brand) and a beaten-up Marie Callender (my usual).
help roughing up the edge of the crust to make it look hand-made. It’s kind of a rustic look, due to the fact that I’m completely incapable of making uniform edges on pies.
Once cooked, the crust was surprisingly good—not grainy or “healthfoody” at all. It worked well with the asparagus and bacon. I also tried a new quiche recipe, substituting a good amount of Greek yogurt for the milk and cream. It turns out I prefer the milk and cream, but I wrote the yogurt option into the recipe in case someone wants to give it a try.
If you are quiche-making, I recommend baking two. Double this recipe or make another flavor, like this mushroom and Gruyere quiche. You can freeze one for later. Thaw it out and reheat in the oven for best results.
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C
Chop the bacon and cook in a skillet on medium heat until crispy. Remove to a paper towel, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan.
Chop the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, reserving 8-10 spears to decorate the top. Add the chopped pieces to the hot skillet and cook for 5 minutes, until they are deep green in color, but still firm. Remove from the pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half (or yogurt + milk), salt and pepper.
Assemble the quiche: Add half of the cheese to the bottom of the crust, bacon and chopped asparagus. Pour in the egg mixture. Top with cheese, and then arrange asparagus spears on top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden and the center no longer jiggles. Cool before serving.
This recipe for the best ever tuna tomato melt was adapted from a dish served in a restaurant called Fiddlers in South Florida. The restaurant no longer exists, but my fond memories of eating there as a kid do. My mom and I would always order their “tuna tomato crisp.” It was a massive beefsteak tomato sliced open, piled with tuna salad and topped with lots of melted cheddar. Over the years, I haven’t found a tuna tomato melt that compares, so I created my own version so I could enjoy it at home.
What makes this special is the way the tomato is sliced open. It’s easy to do, doesn’t wobble around and cooks very fast. I usually make this in a medium-large ripe tomato, but you can make this really fun by choosing small tomatoes or even cherry tomatoes. Top with lots of melted cheese, blast in a hot oven and everyone will love them. The best part is you don’t need to spend time coring and stuffing the tomato. Just split it open like a flower and pile the tuna on top.
This recipe starts with really good tuna salad. It has lots of crunchy veggies and is light on the mayonnaise. Make your tuna however you prefer, but just try it this way once. You may thank me. You can serve the tomato on top of your favorite salad mix or baby spinach. Dress it very lightly or not at all. There is so much flavor in this recipe, you don’t need a lot of dressing. I could eat this every day. It’s healthy and really, really yum.
Yield: 2 servings
This recipe makes a little extra tuna salad.
Heat oven or toaster oven to broil.
Drain the tuna and add to a small bowl. Using a fork, flake the tuna. Mix in the onion, celery, pickle (or relish or capers), mayonnaise, mustard and parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Cut out the stem from the tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in slices, without cutting through the bottom. Press your hand on the top of the tomato to fan out the slices. Pack the tuna salad into the tomatoes and arrange on a foil covered sheet pan. Top each with 1-2 slices of cheese, depending on how indulgent you are feeling.
Pop the stuffed tomatoes into the oven, close to the top heat and keep your eye on them. The goal is to just melt the cheese and get a little brown crust. This should take about 5-8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place the tomatoes on top of your dressed salad greens.
Kale is riding high on the food trend wave, almost to the point of overkill. While I love the nutritional benefits; I haven’t found a recipe that blows my socks off. I still eat kale regularly. It keeps for a long time in the refrigerator and makes a decent sauteed green (though I prefer Swiss chard). In this case I had a getting-old-but-still-good bunch of organic kale, a perfectly ripe Florida avocado and some fancy anchovies in the fridge. I thought to myself, “How wonderful and brilliant would a kale Caesar with creamy avocado dressing be?” Apparently, I’m not that brilliant. A quick search on Google and I found a few variations of the recipe.
To save myself some time inventing yet another version of the recipe, I gave this recipe by Emily from Five and Spice (a recipe she adapted from In Pat’s Kitchen via Food52) a shot, adding big pieces of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, heirloom yellow tomato, avocado chunks and whole wheat croutons made from leftover breakfast toast.
The salad was delicious, but I still prefer the crunchy sweetness of Romaine lettuce. So why should you try it? I can think of three good reasons: First, like me, you probably have an aging bunch of kale in your fridge. Second, it keeps much longer than a traditional Caesar; even dressed. Third, you get the sweet satisfaction of feeding yourself and your family a healthier meal.
A note: If you are using a Florida avocado, use only half of one in the dressing.
Using a food processor, pulse together the anchovies, garlic, Worcestershire, and Dijon until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the avocado, lemon and mayonnaise. Blend until very smooth. Add a little water 1 teaspoon at a time if the dressing is too thick.
In a bowl, stir together the dressing and Parmesan cheese. Cover with plastic wrap so the surface is touching (to prevent browning). Refrigerate until chilled.
Wash and dry the kale, removing the ribs with a knife. Slice into thin, bite-sized pieces.
Add the kale to a bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Using your hands, rub the kale pieces in the salt for a few minutes.
Toss the kale in the dressing (use a little or a lot) and top with fresh black pepper, croutons and extra cheese.
Drizzle bread cubes with olive oil and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or until crusty and brown.
This refreshing watermelon, tomato, feta and mint salad only takes a few minutes to make. It’s beautiful and addicting; the perfect salad on a hot summer day. If you plan to serve right away, I recommend chilling all of the ingredients first so your salad is nice and cold.
Combine all of the salad ingredients. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and season to taste. Dress the salad and you’re done. It will also keep in the refrigerator for about a day. Enjoy!