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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Perfect Summer Dinner

Pin It As hot and steamy as it has been in Central Illinois this summer, the absolute LAST thing that I have wanted to do is fire up the old oven/stove to cook dinner. It's just too hot to stand over that heat!

I came upon this recipe in the August InStyle Magazine Issue. This is the absolute perfect summer dinner: light, refreshing, fun to make. WARNING: I was a bit skeptical about some parts of it, but was so pleasantly surprised with the finished product!

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Arugula, and Serrano Chile Vinaigrette
Fried Green Tomatoes with Pickled Shrimp and Ranch Dressing
 (don't freak about the pickled shrimp!)

Watermelon Salad:

Serves 4
6 tbsp Serrano Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 medium seedless watermelon, skin and rind removed, and cut into squares (or just cubed, which is what we did).
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1/4 lb baby arugula leaves (about 5 cups)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 lb feta, cut into slices (or cubed, which is what we did). 

For Serrano Chile Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1/2 tbsp chopped thyme
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Shake Vinaigrette vigorously.
2. In a large bowl, toss watermelon, feta and arugula, sprinkling the serrano chile. 
3.Mix in vinaigrette.

The Vinaigrette all mixed together. 

The finished product. DELISH!

Fried Green (or Red) Tomatoes with Pickled Shrimp & Ranch Dressing

For Pickled Shrimp
serves 4 (make a day ahead)

2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 lb shrimp, peeled
1/4 tsp ground celery seeds (we omitted these)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sea salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 garlic gloves, minced
6 fresh bay leaves or 12 dry
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
1/2 medium Spanish onion, thinly sliced

PHEW! Enough ingredients?! I look at this recipe as an "investment piece' because we definitely did NOT have about half of these items on hand!

Sooo many ingredients
1. Prepare an ice bath by filling medium bowl with half water, half ice.
2. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add Old Bay seasoning and shrimp to pot and immediately reduce heat to low. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink. 
3. Plunge them into the ice bath to cool down. 
4. Drain and place in the fridge.
5. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir.
6. Combine pickling liquid and shrimp in a large resealable bag and let sit in fridge for 24 hours.

Shrimp and pickling liquid in bag...looks gross but it's yummy, i promise!

For Fried Green (or red) tomatoes
** we used red tomatoes because D doesn't like green ones!**

serves 4.

12 slices tomato, 1/3 inch thick
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup all purpose flower
3 eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup cold water
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil, or vegetable oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing (we used light)
1 lb pickled shrimp (see previous recipe)
1 handful arugula leaves

1. Season tomato slices with salt. Set aside.
2. Find three similarly shaped shallow baking dishes or bowls, and create an assembly line for dredging: flour in first dish, eggs in dish 2, and cornmeal in dish 3.
3. One by one, flour tomato slice on both sides, dip in egg and then dip both sides in cornmeal. 
4. Stack finished tomatoes on a cutting board or plate.

5. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat oil of choice over medium heat. 
6. Being careful not to crowd the skillet, fry tomato slices in batches until golden, 2-3 minutes per side.

7. When finished, lay on a plate lined with paper towels.

post-dredge, post-fry
8. Spoon ranch dressing on plates, put fried tomato slices on each plate and top with a handful of pickled shrimp, and garnish with arugula! 

Ok, some tips: 
*if you aren't into super spicy food, I would use half as much pepper as it calls for. Serrano chile's are super spicy. 
*make sure the tomatoes that you get are firm and don't "give" too much when squeezed. You don't want them to fall apart mid-fry.
* the pickled shrimp doesn't taste like pickles...more like really well seasoned shrimp.

Overall, this was delish! I think we both picked up some tricks and ideas for the next time that we make this, but you live and you learn, right?!

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