Before I start this recipe, I just need to say that I hope my efforts are greatly appreciated. My roommate and my fiance had to spend two weeks walking into random balsamic vinegar clouds and choking as I tested this recipe. Over and over again I heard the same woeful tale of what it was like to be struck in the eye by a wayward vinegar droplet, and over and over again I had to apologize.
“It’s for the blog,” I said, sheepish. You’d be surprised how often that excuse works.
Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you reduce balsamic stuff down: it stinks up the whole house. The acidic scent wafts up your nose, burning every hair along the way, and you realize that cooking isn’t about glamour, it’s about love. Because if you didn’t love it, you wouldn’t be suffering for it right now. I just don’t know how women back in the day did it in a dress and heels. I am usually in baggy pajama pants and a sweater that resembles a garbage bag or a tarp, and it still feels overwhelming at times.
I’m not saying you have to make it or like it, I’m just saying you better be grateful for all the bitching I had to put up with from everyone, including myself. The good thing is, this salad is worth it. Being the part of the meal that tends to be the saddest, your average salad is often overlooked. Think about it: when was the last time you had a salad at a party that wasn’t just a clump of lettuce and some sliced cucumbers, soggy and sitting out in a glass bowl, untouched by guests?
I’m guessing it’s been a while.
I believe that salads should be exciting. And for someone who lives in the Arctic, where fresh veggies are only available for a short window each year, nothing gets me more excited than a salad that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Like, wow salad, you really didn’t have to have such a complementary sauce or well-peppered seafood, thanks for putting out the effort.
“You’re welcome,” this salad says, doing a hair flip. The sharpness of its balsamic sauce is undercut by the light, soft taste of the mozzarella chunks, creating layers of flavor that you don’t typically get in a boring old salad. Those guys are MySpace. This beauty is Snapchat.
Here’s how to make this biting, crunchy shrimp salad.
1 Head Lettuce, Sliced
1 Cup Baby Spinach
8 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella, Diced
8 Ounces Shrimp, Tail Off (Fresh or Frozen/Thawed)
Dash of Lemon Juice
Salt, To Taste
Pepper, To Taste
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Honey
Throw the sliced lettuce, spinach, and diced mozzarella into a large serving bowl and toss. Cover and set in fridge for the remaining steps.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the shrimp and lemon juice until shrimp is pink. Add salt and pepper, bite into a cooked piece of shrimp to taste. Remove from skillet, set aside to cool. Wash skillet (optional). Add balsamic vinegar and honey, stirring occasionally over medium until it is reduced by half (you can eyeball this step).
Let sauce cool. Add room temperature shrimp to salad and toss. Add sauce and toss. Serve cold immediately.
This salad makes for a nice work lunch, although I will say that you won’t want to add the sauce until just before you eat it, or it will get soggy. If seafood isn’t your thing, the best replacement for the shrimp is chicken. It just pairs better with the balsamic dressing than other meats.
As the weather continues to warm up here (a balmy 30 degrees the other day!), I’ve begun to think about summer recipes. Much of my repertoire is based in cold weather foods, things to help me stay warm. This summer, most of the things I make will be different from what I’m used to. That’s exciting and nerve-wracking to me. But I didn’t start this blog just to pussy out when things got a little scary.
So I’ll still be here, eating my salad and washing it down with a few slices of cake (cuz, I like, ate a friggin’ salad, so I earned it).
Until next time, stay out of vinegar clouds.