For a born and fed bayou boy like me, eating light in the summer makes up for the countless pounds of boiled crawfish I consumed this spring. And it gives me pause for the endless bowls of gumbo to come this fall. That’s why today’s fresh Salmon and Shrimp Salad featuring poached salmon and sautéed shrimp dressed lightly with a tart grapefruit vinaigrette is perfectly timed for June. Like many culinary-focused Southern Louisianans, I just call it a “break in the action.” But in Southern California, it’s a year-round way of life, and my friends Kari and James wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Weavers–James produces movies, and Kari produces the most delectable dishes I’ve ever tasted—have become close friends ever since Kari’s visit to our home in Louisiana a few years ago (remember the Caesar Salad story?). Professionally trained, Kari is a personal chef and caterer that focuses on the tony Beverly Hills crowd with her brand of fresh and light recipes. And on a recent trip, I had the opportunity to cook with her.
At their bungalow in West Hollywood, we decided to forego the nearby restaurants and whip up an early evening dinner on the patio. Improvising in the kitchen is fun for me, and with a trip that day to the nearby Farmers Market at The Grove (the oldest in America), I was in culinary heaven. The selection of fresh seafood and the endless supply of farm-to-table vegetables are an inspiration for me. Having access to wild Copper River salmon, fresh shrimp, brown figs, dandelion greens, arugula, sugar snaps, varieties of peppers and tomatoes, is when the menu just writes itself. Just crack open a chilled bottle of rosé, and dinner is served.
This Salmon and Shrimp Salad is less a recipe and more of serving up a big communal platter from the terroir and local waters of wherever you happen to be. Here in Louisiana, this would be even better with grilled Gulf snapper, Creole tomatoes, Louisiana wild-caught shrimp, and Ponchatoula strawberries. Impromptu cooking means taking advantage of the seasonal best that is available in the markets you frequent. It’s all about low prep and minimal cooking–the less complicated, the better.
Give this Salmon and Shrimp Salad a try using your choice of ingredients, and take a walk on the lighter side of life this summer.
- 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds salmon fillets, bones removed
- 1 pound jumbo (16/20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 4 cups spring mix salad greens
- ½ cup fresh basil
- ½ cup fresh arugula
- ½ cup fresh dandelion greens
- ½ cup sliced cucumbers, peeled
- ½ cup sliced carrots
- ½ cup red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup sliced mini sweet peppers
- 1 cup sugar snap peas
- 6 fresh figs, stems removed and halved
- 4 slices fresh lemon
- In a mixing bowl, add the mustard, vinegar, and grapefruit juice as well as the sugar. Whisk the mixture while slowly drizzling the olive oil. When the emulsion is complete, taste and add salt and black pepper to your desired level. Be sure not to over-salt since the seafood will have a natural saltiness. Cover and refrigerate.
- Rinse and pat dry the salmon fillets and shrimp. Lightly sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.
- In a large skillet with a lid over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once sizzling hot, add the shrimp and sauté until they turn pink and are cooked through (but not overcooked), about 5 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
- In the same skillet, add the salmon fillets and sauté on one side only until browned on the exterior, 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately add the wine and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and let the fish poach until done (the flesh will flake with a fork), about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully remove the fillets to a platter and hold at room temperature.
- On a large platter, begin building the salad by laying the base spring mix lettuce and other greens around. Place the cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, peppers and peas in and around the greens. Lay the fresh figs around the edge and garnish with lemon slices.
- Position the fish and shrimp on top and spoon over a bit of the dressing. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.
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