This salad has such interesting colors, temperatures, and textures. A lime vinaigrette binds things together. Add a piece of crusty bread for mopping up the juices and you have a wonderful summery meal. To boot, the pickled onions can be doubled and used to top sandwiches or grilled meats or fish. They're that tasty and incredibly simple to make.
Start the salad early in the day by making the pickle brine and then briefly cooking the onions in the brine before placing them in a jar and refrigerating them to chill and crisp up. Peel and devein the shrimp and marinate in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the fridge also.
When it's time for dinner, warm the bread. Drain a couple cans (or one large one) of black beans, rinse and set in a warm salad bowl, toss them with the lime vinaigrette, sear the shrimp, crumble the feta, and chop the scallions and cilantro. Simple, fast and perfect for a hot day when you don't want to be in the kitchen for any length of time !
Here's the recipe.
Mindy Fox's Black Bean Salad with Shrimp and Pickled Onions
Serves 3 - 4
3/4 c. distilled white vinegar
3 tbsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
3 juniper berries
1/8 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
1/8 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced thinly into rings, separated
2- 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 scallions, whites and greens sliced into thin little coins
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped, more for garnish
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
16 - 20 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
a large pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4 c. feta cheese crumbles
Making the Salad:
1. Make the brine for the pickled onions. Place the first eight ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
2. Add the sliced and separated onions and simmer for 2 minutes. Then, remove from the heat and let stand for a few minutes before pouring into a bowl. Push the onions below the surface of the brine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a few hours at least.
3. Prepare the shrimp and place them in a shallow glass pan or bowl, tossed with the garlic and red pepper flakes and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil. A squeeze of lime juice wouldn't hurt either, but not too much! The shrimp can marinate for an hour or so. Refrigerate while you prepare the beans, scallions, cilantro and cheese.
4. Place the prepped beans, scallions, and cilantro in a warm salad bowl and set aside. Crumble the feta cheese into a small bowl and set aside.
5. Whisk together the 1/4 c. olive oil measure and the lime juice measure. Pour over the beans and scallions/cilantro mix and toss to coat everything. Set aside.
6. Heat a fry pan over medium high heat. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil. Toss in the shrimp and sear for a couple minutes until they are hot, pink, and spicy. Remove the shrimp to a platter. Turn the marinade juices into the hot pan and let them bubble a bit. Pour over the shrimp and mix the pepper flakes and garlic to distribute them.
7. Place the hot shrimp and juices atop the black bean salad with more cilantro for garnish and the feta cheese crumbles.
8. Place clumps of pickled onions on the side and serve with warm crusty bread and a glass of wine.