Sunday, January 30, 2011

mustard greens caesar with shrimp and anchovy croutons

some dinners take tons of recipe searching,
lots of cookbook reading,
and hours of thinking
just to get the food on the table.

and others?
so easy.

that's how it went
when i saw melissa clark's recipe

larry loves mustard greens,
(i'm a fan, too).
i love anything made with anchovy
(he handles them ok).
and, we both love gruyere and garlic.

i almost prepared
the salad as is,
but, last minute
made the decision
to add shrimp for a complete meal.

at home, i broke out a tube
of anchovy paste. you see,
i love anchovies
and i love the flavor
of the fillets, but i have
never been able to get past
the thin-as-can-be bones
that never quite melt with the
rest of the fish.
so, not always,
but often, i use anchovy paste, instead.
i usually use 1 teaspoon in
place of each fillet. this time i added
a bit more to really give this already
assertive salad some extra oomph.

i chopped garlic,
added it to the anchovy paste
and whisked in some olive oil,
which i'll admit i eyeballed.
(it was late.)

to make up for the olive oil
measuring laziness, i took the time
to remove the crusts from a lovely
loaf of bread before cutting into cubes.
(normally, i would convince myself
that the crusts wouldn't make a
difference. but, i guess i was not in
the mood for self-denial.)
anchovy croutons
i tossed the soon-to-be-croutons
with some of the garlicky anchovy-laced oil,
and half the gruyere that larry had grated while
i cubed the bread,
added a little salt and pepper and tossed
them onto a baking sheet. as they crisped,
i squeezed lemon juice and a little bit
more anchovy into the olive oil mixture,
then whisked in the rest of the gruyere.
i stemmed and tore up
8 cups of mustard greens.

and before we knew it,
the croutons were done,
the shrimp, tossed with the
faintest amount of olive oil,
salt and pepper, had been broiled
and i was mixing everything together
in a bowl.

we ate the first few bites silently,
pretty sure the dish would be
a hit, both quickly falling in love
with the not shy flavors.
and the next night,
even though i don't have
the tiniest clue what we ate for
dinner, i remember that i was
resentful that it wasn't this salad.
mustard greens caesar with shrimp and anchovy croutons
mustard greens caesar with shrimp and anchovy croutons
adapted from bon appetit
i think it's fair to say that there are a lot of ingredients that you have to really like to enjoy this salad: sharp and peppery mustard greens, in-your-face garlic, umami-rich anchovy and for our version, nutty aged gruyere. but, if you're not turned off yet, i think you'll love every bite. i will caution you that i used three large garlic cloves and next time, i will probably seek out more normal sized pieces.

2 tablespoons anchovy paste
3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press or finely chopped
approximately 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 teaspoons olive oil for shrimp, divided
1/2 loaf country bread, crusts removed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (3 cups)
4 ounces aged gruyere, grated (1 cup, packed)
1 pound large (20-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 bunch (about 12 ounces) mustard greens, center ribs removed and torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)
1 large juicy lemon, juiced

heat oven to 375˚f. in small bowl, whisk together anchovy paste and garlic; gradually whisk in olive oil. in medium bowl, combine bread cubes, about 2 tablespoons anchovy-garlic oil mixture, 1/2 cup grated gruyere, salt and pepper; toss to coat.

place cubes in single layer on an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp, stirring occasionally. set aside.

change oven to broil.

in bowl, combine shrimp, remaining olive oil and salt and pepper. place on aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. broil 2 minutes; flip and cook 1 minute more, or until firm and just opaque.

meanwhile, in large bowl, combine mustard greens, croutons and remaining cheese. whisk 5 tablespoons lemon juice into anchovy-garlic mixture; season with salt, pepper, more lemon juice and more anchovy paste, if desired.

when shrimp are ready, combine greens, shrimp and dressing mixture; tossing to coat. divide among plates.

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