Greek Salad and Seared Shrimp...Together

Dinner's ready! At my friend Laura Bachinsky's house recently.
Photo: courtesy of Laura, owner of the fabulous MAIN & MAXWELL

I like my cooking to be easy. I don't mind a little prep work--chopping, measuring, slicing--but the assembly or method should preferably be easy enough for a busy working man, woman or college student to prepare a nutritious and delicious meal. Enter today's recipe!

Use ripe vegetables. If your tomatoes are not fully ripened and the cucumbers have too many seeds, don't make this dish. Go to Whole Foods, Earth Fare or your local farmers market and buy heirloom tomatoes. Ask which ones are ready to use now. Look for soft spots by very gently squeezing with the tips of your fingers. Very gently.  Too many soft spots and the tomato is not good for a salad. We want it ripe, but not mushy. Or, if you don't have time and you are in your favorite grocery store or supermarket, look for Campari tomatoes. They are the only packaged tomatoes that I've found to taste and smell like a summertime tomato...or as close as is possible from a packaged product. You can also substitute larger grape tomatoes if you're sure that they're sweet and tomatoey.

Use extra-large or jumbo shrimp. Fresh, if you can find them that way, or frozen (wild-caught). They cost more, but they'll turn out better and save you loads of time peeling and deveining.

Prep the vegetables and peel the shrimp ahead of time.  Keep the prepped shrimp in a bowl or colander lined with paper towels so that the shrimp are dry when they hit the hot pan. They will brown up better this way.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs tomatoes
1 hothouse cucumber or the equivalent in mini cucumbers
1/4 to 1/2 of a red onion
half of a green bell pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons dry oregano
extra-virgin olive oil (to dress the salad and cook the shrimp)
4 ounces real feta cheese (buy it in a block and crumble over the salad)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs extra-large or jumbo shrimp, fresh or frozen and thawed (peeled and deveined)

Method: Cut into smallish pieces, all of the following--tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper. Finely chop the red onion. Season generously with salt. Toss and taste. If the tomatoes taste as if they don't have enough salt, add a little more. Rub the oregano between your hands directly over the vegetables. Wait at least ten minutes for the tomatoes to release their juice (that's what the salt does) and then drizzle generously (very generously) with good olive oil. This will add flavor and medicine, so don't be stingy. Toss gently but thoroughly and look at the dressing--the mix of tomato juiciness and olive oil. If there's more juice than oil, add more oil. You're looking for a balance. Top with feta cheese, toss again and set aside. Slowly heat a large heavy stainless steel or cast iron pan until it's screaming hot! Hot! This can take 10 - 15 minutes. Keep the heat on high. Quickly drizzle in about two tablespoons of oil into the hot pan and dump the shrimp in all at once. With a large fork or tongs, distribute the shrimp evenly in the pan. Once they've turned golden-brown on the bottom, flip them and brown the other side. Scoop out directly onto the salad and toss. Serve immediately with a crusty loaf of good bread on the side--use big chunks to dip into the dressing.

You're welcome!


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