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Watermelon and Cress Salad with Grilled Shrimp and Hearts of Palm

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Serves 2

  • by Samantha Seneviratne from Fine Cooking
    Issue 111

Watermelon’s crunch and subtle sweetness provide a nice contrast to the savory, tender shrimp and hearts of palm. Ricotta salata (salted, pressed fresh ricotta) is similar to feta in texture but not as salty.

  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 per lb.), peeled and deveined, tails left intact
  • 3 canned hearts of palm, drained and patted dry (about half a 14-oz. can)
  • 1 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp. minced shallot
  • 6 oz. watercress or upland cress, separated into small sprigs, thicker stems trimmed
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 12 oz. watermelon, thinly sliced into narrow wedges, rind removed, seeded if necessary
  • 3 oz. ricotta salata, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk 1-1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil, 2 tsp. of the mustard, the lemon zest, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Toss the shrimp in the marinade and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Thread the shrimp onto metal skewers. Toss the hearts of palm with 1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Grill the shrimp and hearts of palm, flipping once, until they have nice grill marks and the shrimp are just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. When cool enough to handle, halve the hearts of palm lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into thirds. Remove the shrimp from the skewers.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1 tsp. mustard with the vinegar, shallot, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Whisk in the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil in a thin stream. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, toss the cress and basil with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat. Season to taste with salt. Divide the greens between 2 plates. Top with the watermelon wedges and drizzle lightly with the remaining dressing. Top with the hearts of palm, shrimp, and crumbled ricotta salata.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with Bruschetta with Fig & Walnut Anchoiade

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 550; Fat (g): 44; Fat Calories (kcal): 390; Saturated Fat (g): 10; Protein (g): 28; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 27; Carbohydrates (g): 14; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4; Sodium (mg): 1780; Cholesterol (mg): 160; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I just fixed this for dinner tonight and it is definitely a keeper. My husband really liked it. The marinade for the shrimp was excellent. Quick to make but does use a lot of dishes when preparing.

First off, apologies for the large block of text. I DID create paragraphs, but the text editor on the web seems to think they're superfluous and removes them...rather ironic for a magazine's website. First off, I generally do NOT like to mix sweet with savory, particularly fruit mixed with the main course, so when my wife (who prepares the menu) selected this for me to cook, I considered my usual trick of doing my own portion without the watermelon. The timing was perfect, and our farmers market provided nearly everything we needed (also my first time working with watercress), and went with a lemon basil to complement the shrimp. We did resort to feta instead of the ricotta salata. With these selections, I put it all together (and did an astounding job of making dirty dishes between all the marinades, seasonings, and dressings required). It was, in a word, outstanding. The feta/watermelon combination was wonderful mixed with the watercress mix and grilled toppings. This wasn't just a bunch of interesting looking ingredients thrown into the same dish to sound interesting (and I had a number of offers at the market to join us for dinner when they asked what the ingredients would be for), it truly works together. A small bit of each at the same time resulted in an excellent blending of flavors. Overall, it was a little more effort than I like to put in to a meal, and I'm seriously trying to figure out how I might make a larger amount for additional guests, but this one will be in the 'keeper' file and make its way into our rotation as an early summer option.

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