08 March 2015

Black Bean Salad with Shrimp and Pickled Onions

This is an extremely fast and easy salad that is put together in the half hour it takes for the pickling brine to do its magic on the purple onions. While the pickled onions absorb the spices and tang, the black beans are drained and rinsed. Limes are juiced. The cheese and cilantro are prepped, some garlic is thinly sliced, and the shrimp are peeled and de-veined. Two minutes before you want to sit down to dine, do a fast pan sear of the shrimp in olive oil and slivered garlic, toss everything together and serve the pickled onions on the side. Delish!

I apologize for the picture quality ... eating at nine o'clock at night makes for poor available light when photographing. I had to quickly capture the salad plate before Kate, my oldest sprout and I fell on the salad like wolves! We'd spent the day at an art museum and came home late to sip wine and throw together a quick, healthy supper. I'd been telling her about a new cook book that was all about different salads, so we stopped to pick up the ingredients for this one.

I found this salad recipe in a relatively new cook book by Mindy Fox, whom I'd never heard of until a friend at the public library told me that I had to check out her book called salads: beyond the bowl. This book is a wonderful source of strong vegetable and grain-based salads- cold and warm. Meat and fish elements are not shied from, but used in smaller portions to complement the other ingredients. It's really a very good cook book.

Leftovers were just as good the next morning when we rounded our breakfast frittata out with the last bit of salad on the side. Next up from this book is a thing called Warm Farro and Sweet Onion Salad with Escarole and Fontina. Mindy's not for abbreviated names for her salads, is she?

Black Bean Salad with Shrimp and Pickled Onions

Serves 4

Pickled Onions Ingredients:

¾ c. distilled white vinegar
3 tbsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
10 whole black peppercorns
3 juniper berries
⅛ tsp. Kosher salt
⅛ tsp. red pepper flakes
⅛ tsp. cumin seeds
1 large red onion, thinly sliced into rings, rings separated

Salad ingredients:

2- 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens
¼ c. fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped … plus more for garnish
¼ c plus 2 tbsp. good olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Kosher or sea salt
16 large fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 large clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 oz. (3/4 c.) Feta cheese, cut into small cubes

Making the Dish:

  1. Place the brine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Add the onions to the brine and lower the heat, simmer the onions, tossing them about in the brine for one minute.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and set the onions in the brine aside for 30 minutes, tossing every few minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place the black beans, scallions, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and ¼ c. olive oil in a salad bowl and toss lightly. Top with the Feta cubes. Set aside.
  5. Two minutes before you want to eat, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Put the 2 tbsp. measure of olive oil in the pan and tilt it to line the bottom of  the pan.
  6. Quickly, toss in the shrimp and garlic and the pan sear for just a minute or two, flipping the shrimp to get them slightly browned.
  7. Scrape the pan and its juices over top the black bean salad.
  8. Garnish with more fresh, torn cilantro leaves. Place some drained pickled onions on the side.
  9. Serve with crusty bread for mopping the juices.

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