Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cool Summer Shrimp and Grilled Peach Quinoa Salad

SUMMER IN THE SOUTH: A Progressive Dinner 

Appreciation is a wonderful thing; 
it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. 
- Voltaire 

I'm a Southern Girl. Oh, I'm no Georgia Peach and my brand of South isn't the cornbread and biscuits, fried chicken and yams, collard greens and black-eyed peas South, ya'll. I grew up in Florida along the dunes and waves of Cocoa Beach and in the shadow of the rockets of NASA. My South is flavored by the tropical fruits and citrus that grow in the lush and savage flora along the Indian and Banana Rivers, the seafood fished in those rivers and in the ocean, coming in through the ports of Titusville. My Southern cuisine is shrimp, crab legs and catfish, steamed or fried, the mangoes and avocados, oranges and grapefruit, peaches and watermelon indigenous to the area, most eaten as is, fresh from the tree, rather than being elaborated in a dish. Cool respite from the sweltering heat of the Florida summer.

I am part of a great and exciting project created to spread the love of good, homemade food: 12 food bloggers have gathered together and created Progressive Eats, a virtual dinner party in which we each create a recipe, prepare a dish along a theme chosen by one or the other, the chosen host of the month. Our goal? Create a menu (something that I'm particularly bad at, so this is great even for me!) and bring our readers delicious, often quite simple from-scratch home recipes. The community dinner parties with real meals from scratch was created by Barb of Creative Culinary.

This month's dinner - the very first Progressive Eats theme - is hosted by Lana of Never Enough Thyme and Lana invited us to a Summer in the South buffet dinner!

Southerners can’t stand to eat alone. 
If we’re going to cook a mess of greens we want to eat them with a mess of people. 
- Julia Reed 

Summer in the South means fresh fruit and shrimp. Summer in the South means food that is light, cool and revivifying, a dish that balances out a barbecue or picnic's naturally more filling mains and sides. For Lana's Summer in the South themed dinner, I offered to bring a cool salad using quinoa, my newest passion, as a base. Quinoa adds great texture, chewy and dense, while remaining rather light, not smothering or hiding the other ingredients, and adding a tasty, slight nutty flavor to the salad. Much better than our other old faithful salad base of rice. I then added cooked shrimp – I buy pre-cooked, as fresh shrimp are impossible to find in Nantes – but freshly grilled shrimp would be even better! To that I added paper-thin slices of red onion for crunch and zing, crumbled feta (or goat's cheese!), just enough for flavor but again not so much that it smothers the light taste of the shrimp or overpowers the sweetness of the fruit. Chopped fresh flat parsley adds both a bite and a touch of green. I then added pitted and halved cherries, plump, juicy and sweet, grilled peach slices and avocado.

You could change out the peach and cherries for chunks of fresh mango and watermelon, either lightly grilled, both Florida summer fruit! You could also add fresh coriander/cilantro for extra zing!

Follow the links to see what the other Progressive Eats members created and brought to the party and get the recipes!

Old Bay Shrimp Boil Skewers from Jane on The Heritage Cook
Fried Green Tomatoes from Megan on Stetted
Creamy Cole Slaw from Milisa on Miss in the Kitchen
Maque Choux Soup from Ansh on Spice Roots
Creole-Style Smothered Chicken from Lana on Never Enough Thyme
Jalapeno Cornbread from Julie on Savvy Eat
Bacon and Caramelized Onion Creamed Corn from Barb on Creative Culinary
Spicy Succotash from Jenni on Pastry Chef Online
Watermelon Lemonade from Lauren on Healthy Delicious
Key Lime Pound Cake from Barbara on Barbara Bakes
Banana Cream Cheesecake Pie from Liz on That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Serves 2

I made the salad for JP and I, just the two of us, but the ingredients can easily be increased for more (for a barbecue party!). He gave it a double thumbs up!

1 ripe yellow peach
2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup per person)
3 ½ oz (100 g) cooked (peeled and deveined) shrimp, rinsed and patted dry
3 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ red onion sliced thin
3 – 4 Tbs crumbled feta or goat cheese
8 ripe cherries, pitted and halved
3 Tbs excellent quality olive oil, more to taste
1 ½ Tbs balsamic vinegar, more to taste
1 tsp raspberry vinegar, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
½ an avocado sliced lengthwise into 6 or 8 wedges

Brush a stovetop grill with olive oil and heat over medium to medium-high heat. Slice a peach in 8 – 10 wedges and carefully place the wedges on the hot grill. Allow to cook until softened just a bit and grill marks appear. Carefully flip the peaches and allow to grill on the other side. Remove the peach wedges to a plate.

Place the cooked quinoa – mine was still warm – into a mixing bowl; add the shrimp, the chopped parsley, the sliced onions, the cherry halves and the crumbled cheese. Season with the olive oil and the two vinegars with a grinding or two of black pepper. Toss, taste and add more of what you like to your taste.

Divide the quinoa salad between two plates. Place grilled wedges of the peach and wedges of avocado around or on the salads and serve.


Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things said...

Jamie, i love peaches in a salad, and the combination of shrimp, or prawns, and quinoa here is just exquisite!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I love all of the different flavors going on with the shrimp - peaches, cherries, and the quinoa. This salad would satisfy my craving for seafood and light meals that I associate with my southern heritage.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A splendid salad! Summery tasting and delectable. This is such a great combination of ingredients.



Rambling Tart said...

I'm not a big fan of salad - all that tedious munching through greens - but I LOVE the sounds of this. :-)

Jane, The Heritage Cook said...

Jamie, this is so beautiful and healthy ... the perfect addition to our Progressive Eats supper club!

Jenni said...

Tedious munching through greens--ha! Perfect! I am not a huge salad person either, and maybe Rambling Tart finally put their finger on why! This sounds lovely and balanced, though. Delicious non-greens-munching salad, my friend!

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

If I were to see that dish along with a heap of others, I'd say that's a Florida salad. It looks wonderful.

Barbara Bakes said...

I prefer eating with a crowd too. Your salad looks so colorful and pretty!

Liz Berg said...

What a spectacular salad, Jamie! Peaches, cherries, quinoa? I'm all over this baby!! So glad to be dining with you today!!!

Ansh said...

Absolutely Brilliant salad. Balanced and Nutritious. I am just getting to know the Southern cuisine and already falling in love with it.

Laura said...

I've been trying to like quinoa and now you've given me a good reason, Jamie. this pairing looks delicious.

Sunchowder said...

I am so making this!!!! Gorgeous Jamie :)

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

I actually LOVE salads but one like this; not that standard picture of a plateful of greens, sad tomatoes and boring cucumbers. If it's summer mine are having fresh fruit and this one SO fits the bill!

Thanks for joining our motley crew Jamie; it will be fun to get the perspective from the S Florida/French camp. :)

Julie said...

Looks so summery and refreshing. Can't wait for peaches to be in season here!

Denise said...

We have literally been living on salads all month, and I cannot wait to try this one out. Love the mix of peaches with shrimp. Sweet but still savory.

Renee Goerger said...

I love all the components and textures of your salad, Jamie! It's also very pretty. What a nice addition to any progressive dinner.

Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen said...

I'm in love with this salad! So incredibly delicious!

Lana@NeverEnoughThyme said...

Our southern cuisines are so diverse! I love seeing your southern cuisine represented through this spectacular salad. Just lovely!

Manu said...

I love the concept and I think this is an amazing salad!!! So beautiful too!

Carolyn Jung said...

Peaches are my favorite summer fruit. I look forward to them every year. I admit that I mostly eat them out of hand or put them into buttery baked goods. Thanks for putting the idea in my head for a grain-filled salad. Looks delicious!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Love the progressive dinner theme! I lived for about a decade in Florida (Tampa, mainly) and you're right -- it's a different kind of south. I loved it! And love this salad, too. We're just beginning to get great local peaches, so your timing with this is perfect for me. Thanks.

AdriBarr said...

What a lovely idea for a blogging project, and your contribution is an absolute delight. Indeed The Peach is the Queen of Summer Fruit. There's something about summer and peaches. Whether eaten out of hand, in salads, or baked into a pie, peaches rock my world. I hope all is well with you, and I am enjoying visiting everyone's sites and seeing what everyone has been up to. My absence was so very long, and I missed so very much. Un bacione a te!

Milk and Honey said...

Having another try at posting a comment. I lLove everything about this salad. Seriously.

Ivy said...

My kind of salad. I'd eat this any time!

Terra said...

Love all the flavors brought together. I never thought to combine shrimp, peaches, cherries, and onions together. So many healthy ingredients all together, definitely need to make with our local peaches here. Yum, Hugs, Terra


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