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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strange Bedfellows

(Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)
It's Wednesday and that means that I don't have to come up with anything for dinner until after I read the Dining Section in The New York Times.  That's because Wednesday is Melissa Clark day.

I have mentioned in the past, probably at least 100 times, that I love Melissa Clark.  She never fails to inspire me.  Her recipes are alway just a little different and often take a turn in a direction I would never have imagined.  Melissa (if we knew one another I am sure we'd be on a first name basis) always makes me want to run out to the grocery store and pick up the ingredients needed to make whatever she's written about.  I think that's pretty impressive.

The good news is that I rarely fight the urge to try Melissa's latest and greatest recipes because they're always good.  Ted appreciates this although often he leaves for the office with steaks defrosting on the counter and comes home to find some elaborate fish dish waiting for him.  I like to keep him on his toes.

Now, at first glance this recipe is going to seem strange.  I'll admit that cheese and shrimp are not a natural combination.  (For my kosher friends, I'm sure you've already stopped reading.)  And then add potatoes and mint to that.  I agree.  Strange.  But I trust Melissa, and I was willing to give it a try.  I figured that the worst that could happen would be that it was too unusual a combination and we wouldn't like it.  Big deal.

So, here's the verdict.  Shrimp and cheese are an unusual combination but this was absolutely delicious.   Who knew shrimp and cheese would actually be good together.  And it wasn't just the shrimp and cheese.  The addition of sugar snap peas made the dish sweet and crunchy, and the potatoes were a really nice contrast.  And it was all tossed in a vinaigrette which always make whatever it touches taste good.

There a lesson in all of this.  If Melissa Clark says it's good then it most likely is.

RECIPE:  Shrimp, Sugar-Snap Pea and Potato Salad With Mint and Pecorino
(New York Times, July 6, 2011)


3/4 pound sugar-snap peas
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, plus more for serving
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper, plus more for serving
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 pound new fingerling or small yellow potatoes
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled
3/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
3/4 cup coarsely grated young pecorino (or 1/2 cup aged)
Crusty bread, for serving.


1. Trim and string the peas, then thinly slice them crosswise. Place them in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in the oil.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Add the shrimp to the pot and cook until opaque, 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the bowl of peas.

3. While the potatoes are warm, slice them into 1/2-inch rounds, and place them in a small bowl. Gently toss them with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread them on a large platter to cool.

4. When the shrimp are cool, toss with the peas and remaining vinaigrette. Spoon the mixture over the potatoes. Tear the mint leaves, and scatter the pieces over the salad. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper. Drizzle with oil and add a little vinegar to taste, if needed.

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