Southwestern shrimp salad

sw-shrimp-salad-2

When I was growing up, my mom would make this bean salad called Texas caviar. It had all the usual suspects of Tex-Mex cuisine—corn, bell pepper, onion, tomato, etc. We would eat it with Fritos Scoops by the vat (or so it felt). It was an awesome summertime eat because it didn’t require a heat source to make. Midwest summers don’t mix well with the oven. Or the stove. Or even a toaster. Ninety-degree days with 90% humidity and no air conditioner? No thanks, I’ll eat my Eggo frozen.

Here, I have made a slightly sexier version of my mom’s Texas caviar. I should probably call if California caviar because if living in LA has taught me anything, it’s that adding avocado to something makes it “Californian.”  But, I won’t do that to you guys.  

This salad is hearty, fresh, and light. You can eat it by itself, over greens, or my personal fav—with tortilla chips. The lime and cilantro lend a brightness that really wakes up the shrimp and cuts through the richness of the avocado. The black beans give it some substance, so it’s easy to fill up on. I like to keep my knife cuts rough and rustic and the best part about making this dish is that the measurements don’t need to be precise. Add as many or as little of the ingredients as you like. You can also eliminate anything you don’t jive with or add an all-star ingredient I may have left out.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2-1 can corn, drained (or fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • cilantro, chopped (to taste)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Peel your shrimp (if they haven’t been) and chop into bite size pieces. Prepare all vegetables by dicing into similar sized chunks.

In a small bowl combine lime juice, onion, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow the juices to mellow out the flavor of the onion.

In a large mixing bowl combine corn, beans, avocado, tomato, jalapeño, shrimp, and cilantro. Add onion mixture and stir to coat. Add more oil or lime juice if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For best flavor, refrigerate for at least 30 mins. Serve with tortilla chips, over greens, or just by itself!

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Bruschetta

Bruschetta

If you’ve read my post My adventures with Neapolitan pizza pie, you know I’m a huge fan of Italian cuisine. I love the rustic, simplicity of it, as well as the sense of family it embraces. It’s all about quality ingredients and unbuttoning your pants to make room for more because Nonni’s plating up your fourth serving of lasagna.

Bruschetta is an appetizer you’ll find at a lot of Italian restaurants. It has different variations, but traditionally it’s toasted bread that’s been rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and commonly topped with a medley of tomatoes and basil. Although I do not come from an Italian family, caprese and bruschetta have always been staples on our app menu—especially late summer when my dad’s tomato garden is in full swing.

I’ve tried many a bruschetta, and I will say I think mine is the best I’ve had (thus far). I like to combine elements of caprese with bruschetta to get the ultimate Italian app. The key to getting depth of flavor is rubbing the crostinis (or “little toasts”) with a clove of garlic after they’ve been grilled. It gives the toast a nice garlic aroma to perfume the rest of the toppings. I also like to add balsamic vinegar to the tomato mixture for a tangy kick.The soft, fresh mozzarella counterbalances the crusty bread and cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar.

Honestly, my mouth is watering right now thinking about it—I’ve got to finish this post so I can make some.

Buon appetito!

Ingredients

  • tomatoes (I like using heirlooms because I’m a tomato snob)
  • basil
  • garlic
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • fresh mozzarella
  • ciabatta (or any rustic bread)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Dice tomatoes and put them in a large mixing bowl. Julienne the basil and throw in the bowl. Mince garlic (approx. 1 clove per 4 medium tomatoes) or use a press, add it to tomato mixture, and toss. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to coat—tasting to test for balanced acidity levels. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Rest for at least 30 mins to let flavors meld.

Cut bread into slices and drizzle with olive oil. Toast under the broiler or on a grill, making sure not to let it burn. Once toasted, cut the end off a garlic clove and rub each toast with it (both sides if you’re trying to keep vampires away). Top crostinis with fresh mozzarella and a spoonful of bruschetta.

For best flavor, serve at room temp. 

Bite-size caprese skewers

Bite-size caprese skewers

Every summer, my dad constructs a huge tomato garden in our backyard. Whenever I come home to visit, he whips up a caprese salad with some garlic rubbed crostini using the tomatoes from the garden. I think this is why caprese has always been a favorite of mine–it reminds me of home. It tastes like warm summer nights on my parents deck, drinking cocktails and playing cribbage. Tomatoes picked straight from the vine are like no other, especially when they’re still warm from the sun. Their flavors are so vibrant and bright, you’ll never want to eat store bought again. That being said, I did not use homegrown tomatoes for this dish. But, please, do so if you have the opportunity!

I had hoped to post this last week before the Super Bowl, but work (also, being lazy) got in the way. However, these adorable, bite-size skewers are a great appetizer for any gathering or celebration. My friend, Carissa, and I made them for our Friendsmas “party” (it was just the two of us) and we ate them all. I love that you can just pop them in your mouth all at once and the fresh tomato and mozzarella pair so well with the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar.

The ingredients are simple. The assembly is easy. And, the presentation is playful. There’s really not a lot to not love about these, so try them out for your next get together!

Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • cherry tomatoes
  • buffalo mozzarella balls
  • fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • wooden skewers, cut in half (not to eat)

Instructions

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half widthwise. This creates a flat surface, making it possible to stand them upright on the plate. Rip the basil leaves in half or thirds, depending on your preference. Next, assemble the skewers with the tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella balls in any order you’d like. Stand them upright on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and call it a day.

*Serve at room temp as it will heighten the natural flavors of the tomato and mozzarella.