I hope you won’t mind that I’ve been keeping my blog posts short and sweet lately. We’ve been having an absolutely perfect summer and I find myself constantly itching to be outside rather than planted in front of my computer. The dreary, grey weather we have for 9 months of the year leads Seattleites to lose their minds in the summertime. The normally reserved (and somewhat grumpy) population is all smiles and small talk and walking-around-town-with-extra-spring-in-their-step when the sun is shining. It’s basically impossible for us to stay inside one second longer than absolutely necessary.
This glorious summer weather is also why I’ve been posting simple, low-prep recipes. I don’t know about you, but I want to cook everything on the grill when it’s warm out. I’m loath to heat up my little kitchen when it’s already hot. And there’s something about cooking outdoors that seems so right for long days and balmy nights.
Feeling the cool breeze on your skin and the heat from the grill, watching the flames dance under the grate and the smoke waft through the air--it all has an elemental quality to it that reminds me people have been cooking this way for thousands of years. The simplicity of preparing a meal over a fire has a certain grace that allows me to slow down and be present in a way cooking in my appliance-filled kitchen does not.
So my plan for the summer is simply to post the best of what I’ve been cooking for myself here on the blog. I made this Grilled Shrimp with Melon, Cucumbers and Mozzarella a few weeks back and loved how it turned out. I’m a big fan of contrasting sensations and flavors, so what made this dish for me was the spice of the chile against the crisp cucumbers and creamy mozzarella and the smoky grilled shrimp paired with the sweet-tart melon. It's got all the flavors I want in a light, summer salad.
I hope you’re enjoying the long days as much as we are in Seattle and that you get the chance to cook out-of-doors at least once this year!
Grilled Shrimp with Melon, Cucumbers and Mozarella
- ¼ to ⅓ medium ripe honeydew or other melon, seeded and skin removed
- 2 limes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Piri Piri, Aleppo or other ground dried chile, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
- ¼ serrano chile, very thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 small Persian cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds or ribbons
- 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella or about 12 bocconcini-sized balls (about 4 oz. total), torn into bite-sized pieces
- ½ lb. medium to large sustainable shrimp (I used size 16-20 wild gulf prawns), shelled
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves, torn if large
- Special equipment: metal or wooden skewers
*Notes: If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in hot water while you prep the salad. (This keeps them from burning on the grill.)
- If you don’t have a grill or don’t feel like grilling the shrimp, you can also poach them according to the directions in this recipe.
- I think this salad is delicious with or without the mozzarella.
Thinly shave or slice the melon about ⅛-inch thick. Arrange the melon on a serving platter or divide between individual plates. Halve one of the limes and squeeze a little lime juice over the melon. Melons vary greatly in terms of sweetness and acidity, so taste your melon and season accordingly. You want a nice balance of sweet and sour. Set aside.
Zest the other lime with a microplane and set the zest aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 teaspoon of the zest, the olive oil, a pinch of chile, a generous pinch of salt, the garlic and the serrano (if using). Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
Place the shrimp in a small bowl and toss with a little of the chile-lime vinaigrette. Place the cucumber and torn mozzarella in the medium bowl with the rest of the vinaigrette and toss to cover. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes. While the shrimp, cucumber and cheese are marinating, preheat a grill or grill pan to high heat.
When the grill is quite hot, skewer the shrimp and grill on each side for 45 seconds to 2 minutes, pressing down on them with a set of grill tongs to make sure they get some nice char. The time will vary depending on the size of your shrimp. You want them to be just a tiny bit translucent inside when you take them off the grill. They’ll continue to cook off the heat and be perfectly done instead of overcooked and rubbery. If you’re unsure of their doneness, pull one of your skewers and cut into a shrimp with a paring knife to check.
When the shrimp are done, carefully remove them from your skewers and add to the bowl with the cukes and mozzarella. Toss to coat, taste and adjust seasoning again, if necessary.
To serve, very lightly salt the melon. Spoon some of the mozzarella and cucumbers over the melon then top with shrimp. Sprinkle a little of the reserved lime zest over the shrimp then scatter the mint leaves over the top. Serve immediately.