~ Shrimp, Orange, Avocado & Onion Wedge Salad + A Sun-Kissed Orange & Very Citrus Salad Dressing ~
Women love to go out for long relaxing lunches, especially lunches that can be enjoyed dining "al fresco" (a fancy Italian phrase for "outside in the fresh air") on the patio or porch of a busy streetside cafe or a serene picturesque rural eatery. I'm no exception to this. That being said, my last two luncheon experiences were borderline agony. The salad selections were so over-the-top goofy "nouveau" (a fancy French phrase for "having recently been designated the thing to do") I wanted to shred my menu, stand up and scream, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more" (a line from the 1976 movie Network). I didn't. I saved my rant for you:
Over the past decade, my salad-eating world has been taken over by bitter and soft Mesclun and Spring mixes, fancy frisee, peppery arugula, tiny microgreens, and, the super-ingredient du jour: kale (the cows cud of all salad greens). I've decided it's time to bring some sweetness and crunch back into my salad-loving world. Only one ingredient can do this: the almost extinct head of easy-to-get-along-with iceberg lettuce. More specifically, a big ole' one-quarter-of-a-head wedge sitting in the middle of a plate full of familiar, enjoyable-to-eat ingredients (no birdseed included) topped with a light, but bold and refreshing dressing or vinagrette!
Sometimes, what's "old" is "new". How do I know this?
I am old enough to remember "the big cold wedge"' of the past.
A bit about iceberg lettuce. Prior to the 1920's Americans relied primarily on seasonal leaf lettuces that were grown in their gardens or sold in their local markets for their salads. Then, along came the railroad. It became possible for iceberg lettuce to be shipped year round, in traincars, from California to every corner of the USA. Each crate of this round-headed super-cripy lettuce, which has a longer shelf life than all other leafy greens, was topped with ice to keep it cold during the long trip. As the traincars would pull into depots for delivery and unpacking, the rail workers would shout, "here come the icebergs", or "the icebergs are coming"!
It's time to revive and update the fun-to-eat wedge salad!
The classic wedge salad consisted of a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese, bacon and diced tomatoes. It was a staple in all steakhouses during the 1950's and 60's. It was, and still is undeniably delicious, but even I admit, that is quite a calorie load. So, I called upon my unquestionably good taste and remarkably astute common sense to start coming up with lighter yet appealing combinations for this embarrassingly simple, beloved salad -- wedge salads that would appeal to the modern-day regular-gal -guy and their kids. Ideas flowed into my brain like buckets of water to a fire:
On Tuesday I posted ~ My Grapefruit, Gorgonzola & Walnut Wedge-Salad + Pretty in Pink-Grapefruit & Citrus Salad Dressing ~. You can get the recipe by clicking into Category 2, 8 & 14 or on the Related Article link below.
I added some roasted chicken slices to turn it into an "al fresco" meal for Joe and I, and, from the minute I watched the dressing drizzle down through the layers of crispy lettuce I knew it was everything I wanted it to be!
A variation on a theme w/shrimp & avocado. Feeling the love?
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed and strained orange juice, 2 large, juicy oranges
Note: On Tuesday I made this dressing with freshly-sqeezed and strained grapefruit juice and grapefruit supremes. Grapefruit and oranges can be substituted interchangeably in this recipe without compromise. Like them both? Use them both!
2 tablespoons orange-infused olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground peppercorn blend
~ Step 1. Squeeze and strain the orange juice as directed. Place all of the dressing ingredients, as listed, in a 2-cup measuring container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until thoroughly combined. Set aside while preparing the following salad. Shake again just prior to drizzling on or tossing into salad.
To make my Shrimp, Orange, Avocado & Onion Wedge-Salad:
This salad is not a side-salad, it is main-dish lunch or dinner salad. Add as many shrimp, orange segments and diced avocado to each plate as you see fit. I think eight-ten shrimp and orange segments, plus, a half of an avocaco (diced) is about spot-on-right for a great dinner salad that doesn't leave you hungry in an hour. Open up a bottle of white wine and enjoy!
Note: To get my detailed instructions for cooking succulent shrimp everytime, click into Categories 1, 11, 14, 16 21 or 26 and read ~ Once upon a time... A Tale about Shrimp Cocktail ~.
3-4 large oranges, supremed, 8-10 orange section per salad
Note: For detailed instruction on ~ How to: Supreme Citrus Fruit (an easy Knife Skill) ~ just click into Category 15 or on the related Article link below.
2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded and cut into 1/2" cubes, just prior to serving, about the same size as you would cube cheese for a salad
1 cup citrus dressing from above
1 cup spiced "candied" walnuts or pecans (optional), crumbled
Note: These add a nice crunch to this salad, but, aren't necessary for it's success. To get my recipe for ~ Super-Crunchy Sugar-Crusted Spiced Pecans ~, click into Categories 2, 6, 11 or 18. I prefer walnuts in this salad, but feel free to substitute pecans!
~ Step 1. Prepare and cool the spiced walnuts, up to a day ahead.
~ Step 2. Cook and chill the shrimp, up to a day ahead.
~ Step 3. On each of four chilled luncheon or dinner plates, place a wedge of iceberg lettuce. Arrange the shrimp and the orange wedges around the lettuce. Prop a few "onion o's" up on either side of the lettuce too. Portion/sprinkle the avocado pieces over the top of each plate followed by the optional spiced walnuts. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of dressing over each salad.
Rejoice (or don't and go eat your kale)!
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; citrus juicer (electric, hand held or just your hands); fine mesh strainer; 1-cup measuring container; 2-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid and pourer top
Cook's Note: For another one of my favorite easy-to-make, fun-to-eat, al fresco salads, which is one you tomato lovers will appreciate, my recipe for ~ A Summertime Shrimp, Avocado & Tomato Salad ~ can be found by clicking into Categories 2, 10 or 14!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)